Blue plaque for Elizabeth is Pontefract’s first for a woman

Honoured: Shannon Wishon, Sarah Cobham, Yvette Cooper MP and Paul Cartwright at the unveiling of Elizabeth Moxon's blue plaque. It will be hung at her home on Finkle Street.
Honoured: Shannon Wishon, Sarah Cobham, Yvette Cooper MP and Paul Cartwright at the unveiling of Elizabeth Moxon's blue plaque. It will be hung at her home on Finkle Street.

Pontefract’s newest blue plaque not only honours a historic figure, but it is the first blue plaque in the town dedicated to a woman.

Unveiled last week, the blue plaque is dedicated to Elizabeth Moxon, the first Yorkshire woman to write a cookbook, and will be hung at her former home on Finkle Street.

Elizabeth’s cookery book, English Housewifery, was first published in 1741, and featured several hundred recipes, as well as dinner party plans and guides for saving food.

She has been described as a trailblazer in English culinary writing, and her book is thought to have paved the way for future cookery authors.

The unveiling at Pontefract Town Hall on Friday was attended by Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper, Coun Jacquie Speight and members of the Moxon family.

It included a performance of Lemon Drops, a specially-commissioned play which invited audiences into Elizabeth Moxon’s kitchen - and her life.

The plaque was organised by the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project, which aims to achieve blue plaque parity for women.

Sarah Cobham, founder of Dream Time Creative, the company behind the project, said: “Enabling and emboldening the woman’s voice through creativity is at the heart of what we do and today is a testament to that.

“Not only have we ‘met’ Elizabeth, we have also been able to sample some of her dishes, made by our volunteer researchers, Helga Fox, Helen Wilby and Amy Charles, from the original cookbook.”

Funded by Pontefract Museum, the research and community engagement project has provided opportunities for local people to explore the life of Elizabeth Moxon.

Elizabeth’s family can be traced back to 1640, when her grandfather first rented the burgage plot on Finkle Street, where her plaque will be placed.

Paul Cartwright, Pontefract Civic Society chairman, said: “I was thrilled when Sarah approached us to get involved in this project.

“It was a further honour to be asked to host the unveiling at Pontefract Town Hall and to have Yvette Cooper MP present.

“We are also pleased that Jonathan Barton has agreed for the blue plaque to go on his café in Finkle Street, a place in Pontefract where the story began.”

The Forgotten Women in full

At present, the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project has secured eight blue plaques. These are for:
- Alice Bacon, Yorkshire’s first female MP;
- Phyllis Lett, a professional contralto singer;
- Edith Mackie, who dedicated her life to charity; 
- The Gissing Sisters, who founded one of the city’s first prep schools;
- Gertrude McCroben, a head teacher of Wakefield Girls’ High School;
- Louisa Fennell, an award winning watercolour artist;
- Florence Beaumont, one of the city’s leading suffragists;
- Elizabeth Moxon.