Heritage Open Days event: Constance Cooke’s Cooking Box

Date and Time
Wed, 14th Sep, 2022 at 11:00 - 15:00

Constance Cooke grew up at Hellens. She was the eldest child of Charles Radliffe Cooke, farmer, cider producer and Conservative party politician. After her ambition to attend university was blocked by her father, Constance pursued her many other interests, including social and political reform. When travelling on the continent Constance had been fascinated to see how labourers used insulated baskets to keep their food warm. She had also seen and used hay boxes to cook in Herefordshire, but found them inadequate as the hay soon became mouldy. Constance created a new kind of cooking box, using a wooden crate, with wool, wood shavings and a cloth lining to help retain the heat from the metal pan. With the outbreak of the First World War, Constance was keen to share about her cooking box as a means to save fuel, money, and give women more time to do other jobs, both at home and for the war effort. Constance’s cooking box was so successful that she wrote a book about how to build the box, together with suitable recipes to use. This book was published in 1917 and sold thousands of copies. A cooking box recreated in 2021 following Constance’s detailed instructions proved to be an excellent success, showing that her astounding invention from 1917 still works today.

Local historians Clare Wychbold and Elizabeth Semper will be at Hellens from 11:00 until 15:00 to host a demonstration of Constance Cooke’s astoundingly excellent Cooking Box and answer any questions.

If you wish to book a place on a House Tour on this day, please see the separate listings for House Tours to book.

Find out more about heritage open days