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Good housekeeping anno 1700

– The Household book from Stensböle Manor

The Household book from Stensböle Manor


This book on good housekeeping and cooking was written for a noblewoman in Finland, Barbro Christina Hästesko-Fortuna, born in 1698. Housekeeping skills and practical advice on running a household were generally passed on from mothers to daughters in the 18th century, but for Barbro Hästesko this was not the case. After many misfortunes (orphaned at the age of four, married and widowed in her early teens, taken prisoner and transferred to Russia during the Great Nordic War), she remarried a Swedish nobleman, Johan Wentzel Rotkirch and in 1721 settled at Stensböle manor near Borgå (Porvoo) in southern Finland. Barbro Hästesko was in need of guidance in household matters, and Rotkirch wrote this cookery book for her. The origin of the recipes is unknown. Most likely the contents of the handwritten book, consisting of food and baking recipes, methods for preserving foodstuff, instructions for dyeing and cleaning textiles, and many other practical recommendations related to household maintenance – not least cures for both people and cattle – was based on oral tradition and on several kinds of both printed and non-printed sources. Others later continued the book, with additions and alterations indicating that it was used by many generations at Stensböle manor.

In a recently published book, Hushållsbok för Stensböle gård. Recept, råd och huskurer från 1700-talet, this handwritten book has been put in print. The book includes an extensive commentary on matters related to the manuscript and its contents. In an introductory article two historians, Johanna Ilmakunnas and Märtha Norrback, discuss in what respect the manuscript reflects everyday life at the manor with its shared responsibilities regarding domestic tasks, gendered division of work and spaces, education, sociability and family networks. They also discuss how the manuscript relates to other cookbooks in its time and the dissemination of knowledge. The article demonstrates how the household of a country estate with the master and the mistress of the house, their family and servants created a sphere of its own.

The original Household book from Stensböle Manor

A facsimile of the original household book is freely available on

The language of the book is Swedish. The book is published by The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland) together with Appell Förlag in Sweden.


Hushållsbok för Stensböle gård

Recept, råd och huskurer från 1700-talet

Edited by Märtha Norrback

ISBN 978-951-583-508-6

287 p., hardback, illustrated


For a review copy, please contact

Hanna Riska