A Newsletter for Lovers of Early English Oak Furniture

March 2014

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Singing Eglantine

The Eglantine table in Hardwick Hall's High Great Chamber was made to celebrate three marriages of Bess of Hardwick to Lord Shrewsbury and their children to each other.

It is one of the most interesting and exceptional pieces in the house, beautifully inlaid with briar roses (hence the name), musical scores and instruments, playing cards and board games. It demonstrates just how important music was as a pastime and an entertainment for guests.

The scoring is authentic. In April 2013, visitors to Hardwick were astonished and delighted when a quartet from York University School of Early Music created a "flash mob" event and "sang" the table. The rush floor and tapestry hangings create an ideal acoustic, as you can hear here.


Oak Ice Cream


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup medium-toasted oak shavings or chips (available at, 800-321-0315, or home-brewing supply stores)
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large egg yolks


  1. Prepare an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, and oak shavings. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, watching carefully to keep from boiling over, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture infuse for 45 minutes.
  3. Strain through a thin mesh colander or strainer into a heatproof bowl; discard oak shavings. Return mixture to a clean medium saucepan over very low heat.
  4. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, whisk together the granulated sugar, turbinado sugar, honey, salt, and egg yolks until almost doubled in volume, about 2 minutes. Add 1/3 of the warm oak-infused liquid and mix just until combined well, about 30 seconds.
  5. Return sugar and egg mixture to the saucepan of warm oak-infused milk, and gently stir in an "S" shape, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan. Mixture will be ready when it appears silky and has thickened so that it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  6. Remove mixture from heat and set aside. Fill a large bowl with water and ice; place saucepan in it and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooling. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  7. Finished ice cream will have the consistency of soft serve and should be served immediately or promptly placed in freezer to help solidify. Serve within 2 days for best results.
Yield 1 quart.