Today I have a pair of ultimate dessert beauties: a pair of ice pails made by Coalport in about 1810. Ice pails came with dessert services and they were usually only bought by the very wealthiest customers.
Although in the 18th and 19th Centuries desserts were usually fruit-based, the very wealthy were partial to ice cream as well. And the reason this was only for wealthy land owners was, of course, that in order to make ice cream you couldn't just buy ice cubes around the corner like we can today; you needed your own ice storage. This was usually a cave built with bricks or rocks and lined with straw. You could only do this if you had a large estate and enough staff to look after the ice all year round - it had to last through the summer!
This is how the ice pail works: you put ice cubes in the bottom, sprinkle them with salt as this slows down the melting process, then in some models you put in a liner filled with ice cream or chilled fruits, and then put the top compartment on top of that, also filled with ice cubes and a touch of salt. Then you place the lid on top et voilà, your ice cream will remain frozen for about 4 hours, enough to last through dinner until the dessert!
These beautiful ice pails are in the famous and quite rare "Church Gresley" pattern - and nobody knows why it is called that way, but it is assumed that this pattern was first designed for a family of baronets of originally Norman origin who owned a small village in South Derbyshire in England named Church Gresley, and lived there for about 900 years.
This particular model of ice pails doesn't have liners. They are wonderful for decoration and if you don't want to use them for ice cream they can double as wine coolers... so do you need something truly impressive for your Christmas dinner? Here we have it!
Small gifts, andLAST CHANCE TO SHIP
It's the time of year for gifts... you can find a page with