Philippa Glanville discusses Margaret, Duchess of Portland’s dessert table, drawing on historic recipes and bills from the Portland archives held at Nottingham University and Welbeck Abbey.

Laying a fine dessert table was the duty of a noblewoman, and no expense was spared in elaborate entertaining.

Duchess Margaret was a famed hostess. Her dessert table at Welbeck groaned with delicious homegrown delicacies, accompanied by sweetmeats from the Italian caterer Domenico Negri. It was laid with treasured porcelain brought from fashionable English factories as well as Dresden, Sevres and Asia, and glittered with an astonishing 178-piece silver-gilt service, made for the Duchess by London goldsmiths John and William Café – despite her chronic shortage of cash.

Philippa Glanville was The Harley Foundation’s Curatorial Advisor for many years and is a leading authority on all aspects of historic silver plate and the history of dining. Her boundless enthusiasm combined with a deep academic knowledge of her subject makes her a compelling guide to The Portland Collection’s incredible silver.

Philippa was formerly Chief Curator of the Metal, Silver and Jewellery Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Philippa has written many books and has recently been an adviser to the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art.  She is a Trustee of the Art Fund and the Museum of Freemasonry.