"As they are in beauty and sweetness so are they in virtue and wholesomeness."

W. Lawson, The Country Housewife's Garden.

"The conserve of the Carnation Gillyflower is exceeding Cordiall eaten now and then."


There has always been much learned discussion as to exactly what the old gillyflower was, but any child looking at the old illustrations would identify it with the pink or carnation, and this is near enough for all practical purposes. The good old English name of Gillyflower is such a much prettier name than Carnation that it is a pity we do not use it. There are numerous illustrations of the cultivated gillyflowers in Parkinson's Earthly Paradise, and some of them have enchanting names: "Master Tuggie's Princesse," "Lustie Gallant," "Fair Maid of Kent," "Master Bradshawe his daintie Ladie," "John Wilke his great tawny gillowflower," "Speckled Tawny," "Master Tuggie his Rose gillowflower." Another common name for gillyflowers was "Sops in Wine," because wine was flavoured with them when they were in flower. Many of the old writers give curious directions of how to improve or alter the colour and scent of gillyflowers which seem to have held a place in our affection only second to roses throughout the Middle Ages.

Tryon says, "These gilliflowers you may make of any colours you please in such sort as is shewed you for the colouring of lillyes, and if you please to have them of mixt colours you may also by Grafting of contrary colours one with another, and you may with as great ease graft the gilliflowers as any fruit whatsoever by the joynings of the knots one unto another and then wrapping them about with a little soft silke and covering the place close with soft, red waxe, well tempered. And you shall understand that the grafting of gilliflowers maketh them exceeding great double and most orient of colour. Now if you will have your gilliflowers of divers smels or odours, you may also with great ease, as thus for example: if you will take two or three great Cloves, steepe them for four and twenty hours in Damaske Rosewater. Then take them out and bruise them and put them into a fine Cambrick ragge and so binde them about the heart roote of the gilliflower near to the setting on of the Stalk, and so plant it in a fine, soft and fertile mould, and the flower which springeth from the same will have so delicate a mixt smell of the clove and the Rose-water that it will breed both delight and wonder. If in the same manner you take a sticke of cinnamon and steepe it in Rosewater, and then bruise it and bind it, as aforesaid, all the flowers will smell strongly of cinnamon, if you take two grains of fat muske or mix it with two drops of Damaske Rose-water, and bind it, as aforesaid, the flowers will smell
strongly of muske, yet not too hot nor offensive, by reason of the connection of the Rose-water, and in this sort you may doe either with Ambergreece storac, Benjamin, or any other sweet drugge whatsoever, and if in any of these confections before named you steep the seedes of your gilliflowers foure and twenty houres before you sowe them, they will take the same smels in which you steept them, onely they will not be so large or double, as those which
are replanted or grafted.


Take a quart of water, half a bushel of Flowers, cut off the whites, and with a Sive sift away the seeds, bruise them a little; let your water be boyled and a little cold again, then put in your Flowers, and let them stand close covered twenty-four hours; you may put in but half the Flowers at a time, the strength will come out the better; to that liquor put in three pounds of Sugar, let it lye in all night, next day boyl it in a Gallypot, set it in a pot of water, and there let it boyl till all the Sugar be melted, and the Syrup be pretty thick, then take it out and let it stand in that till it be thorough cold, then glass it.

The Queen's Closet Opened, by W. M., Cook to Queen Henrietta Maria, 1655.


Take two ounces of dryed Gillyflowers, and put them into a bottle of Sack, and beat three ounces of Sugar candy, or fine Sugar, and grinde some Ambergreese, and put it in the bottle and shake it oft, then run it through a gelly bag, and give it for a great Cordiall after a week's standing or more. You make Lavender Wine as you doe this.



Pickle up stratum super stratum, a lay of flowers, and then strawed over with fine, dry and powdered Sugar, and so lay, after lay strawed over untill the pot be full you meane to keepe them in, and after filled up or covered over with Vinegar.

John Parkinson, Paradisi, 1629.


Gilliflowers infused in Vinegar and set in the Sun for certaine dayes, as we do for Rose Vinegar do make a very pleasant and comfortable vinegar, good to be used in time of contagious sickness, and very profitable at all times for such as have feeble spirits.

John Evelyn, Acetaria, 1699.


Take the weight of your Flowers in refin'd Sugar or sugar candy, sift it, put to it some rose-water, and set it over a gentle Charcoal fire, put in your Flowers, and stir them till the Sugar be of a candied Height; then keep them in a dry Place for Use.

From The Receipt Book of John Nott, Cook to the Duke of Bolton, 1723.


Take the Flowers just blown, take them out of the Husks, clip the white Bottoms, and put them in fair water; boil up White Wine Vinegar and scum it till no more scum will rise; let it stand by to cool; then squeeze the water out of the Gilliflowers, and put them into the Vinegar; put in some broken Cinnamon, a few Blades of Mace, melt some double refin'd Sugar in Rose Water, and put to the Pickle, and stop them up close. When you use them mince them small, put a little Vinegar to them, and strew over them a little fine Sugar. They are a very good sauce for Lamb or Mutton.



The flowers are used. Make a Syrup of five pints of boiling water poured on three pounds of the flowers picked from the husks, and with the white heels cut off. After they have stood twelve hours, strain off the clear liquor without pressing, and dissolving in it two pounds of the purest sugar to every pint. This makes the most beautiful and pleasant of all Syrup.

From The Receipt Book of Henry Howard, Free Cook of London, 1710; and Cook to the Duke of Ormond.


Take six Gallons and a half of Spring Water, and twelve Pounds of Sugar, and when it boils skim it, putting in the White of eight Eggs, and a Pint of Cold Water, to make the Scum rise; let it boil for an Hour and a half, skimming it well; then pour it into an Earthen Vessel, with three Spoonfuls of Baum; then put in a Bushel of Clove-Gilliflowers clip'd and beat, stir them well together, and the next Day put six Ounces of Syrup of Citron into it, the third Day put in three Lemons sliced, Peel and all, the fourth Day tun it up, stop it close for ten Days, then bottle it, and put a Piece of Sugar in each Bottle.

Sarah Harrison, The Housekeeper's Pocket Book, 1739.

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