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Cooking pots on
old kitchen ranges

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Cast iron saucepan showing its long handle

Cast iron saucepan, photographed in Tilford Rural Life Centre.

There were of course no lightweight, non-stick, aluminium cooking pots in Victorian and Edwardian times.


Cast iron cooking pots

In ordinary households, the cooking pots were cast iron which made them very heavy. They usually had long handles, so that they could be lifted with two hands.

The handles of course got very hot in use, so were normally held through a cloth.

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Copper cooking pots

Highly polished copper saucepans

Copper cooking pots, photographed in Portsmouth Museum.

Copper was a better conductor of heat than cast iron and could be made thinner than cast iron pots. This made them lighter and quicker to use. However, copper was much more expensive. So it was mainly found in reasonably well-off homes.

Tarnished copper saucepans

Copper pots left to tarnish. Although they may look similar to cast iron in colour, the thinness of the metal confirms that they are copper. Photographed in Llanerchaeron House.

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Cleaning the pots

If you can add anything to this page, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

As there were no non-stick surfaces, it was very difficult to clean a saucepan after use - as I remember from experience and to my cost in the 1940s and early 1950s.

I understand that in Victorian stately homes, scullery maids were expected to clean saucepans by rubbing sand into them with their bare finger tips!

Also, as copper tarnished, the scullery maids had to polish the outsides of the pots too! The above photo shows well-polished copper pots while the photo on the right shows them tarnished.

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