Cooking up another fundraising treat for Wetheringsett church

Jean Crawshaw, editor of a new cookery book, delivers the first copies to last week's Wetheringsett

Jean Crawshaw, editor of a new cookery book, delivers the first copies to last week's Wetheringsett coffee morning, renowned for its luscious cakes. Photo: Don Black - Credit: Archant

There’s a new foodie book out in time for Christmas – but you have to find your way to a remote Suffolk church to get it. Don Black tells why.

One of those country places that has hamlets but no village, Wetheringsett now has a third reason to be known far beyond its boundaries – for expert cookery knowledge.

Its first claim to fame is due to its former rector Richard Hakluyt, who persuaded Queen Elizabeth I to encourage English settlement overseas.

And it achieved national notoriety centuries later when a Victorian ‘rector’ forgot to train as a priest first, necessitating an Act of Parliament to legitimise scores of weddings and births.

All this history without possessing an inn, a shop or even a humble cafe, apart from stock at a garage on the A140 in Brockford hamlet.

What the ancient core of Wetheringsett offers is a delicious event every Wednesday morning, when parishioners meet for coffee, cakes and a chat in the back of their parish church.

It’s run by a loyal, hardworking team who bake cakes, fetch water, make coffee and welcome everyone and anyone.

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The magnificent church is as big as some cathedrals, but lacks basic facilities such as a kitchen, which makes their job that much more difficult.

As you can imagine, the cakes are much enjoyed and two years ago favourite recipes for them were collected into a cookery book.

It sold 150 copies, raising nearly £300 towards the future provision of kitchen and toilets.

Now a second Wetheringsett church cookery book, Soups, Suppers and Puds, has been launched by local resident Jean Crawshaw.

Containing more than 75 recipes, handy hints, funny quotes and photos, it’s a snip at £4 and profit will again go to improving church facilities.

It will be sold at the coffee mornings, though not through email or postage, which are regarded as too much hassle.

One of the recipes revives a classic winter warmer with an Indian flavour.

Most Indian restaurants in East Anglia appear to have dropped mulligatawny soup from their menus, presumably because it’s too filling before more profitable main courses. This is a pity because Britons serving in the India of the Raj first created a demand for this soup.

So Janette McCartney, a ‘military wife’, has revived it as turkey mulligatawny soup in the Wetheringsett book, in which it’s described as ‘mildly spicy and wonderfully comforting on a chilly day’.

Perfect, moreover, for using up left-over turkey or chicken.

There’s good news also in the pudding menus. “Lots of naughty treats in this section but, as many contain fruit, they do count as one or two of your five (fruit and vegetables for health) a day,” says Jean.

“Chocolate is very healthy and heart-friendly too. Hurrah!”

The Rev Julia Lall, rector of Wethingsett and eight other parishes, said that the coffee morning was greatly appreciated and “a wonderful way” to share food and fellowship.

She thanked Jean and all who contribute cakes to the coffee mornings and recipes for the new book, “which will make great little Christmas gifts.”

The easiest way of getting there is to take the A140 to a point near Brockford and follow the Wetheringsett sign into a lane that leads to the church, set in a wooded valley.

Fiona Purvis, of Anne Delisser Designs, put her cookery book publishing experience into the production.

The last two Wetheringsett coffee mornings before Christmas will be on Wednesdays December 6 and 13. They restart on February 28. They’re preceded at 10am by a short service.

There will be a carol service and christingle in the church on Sunday December 10 at 6pm and a communion service at 9am on Christmas Day.