Before 1791 the stock of wines and spirits in the wine cellar at Dunham Massey Hall was recorded annually in the household consumption account books (EGR7/1). From 1791 onwards a separate cellar book was maintained as the principal means of controlling the Hall's stock of wines and spirits. The cellar books are not signed and the evidence of handwriting is inconclusive, but it is probable that they were compiled by the Hall butler. All bottles laid down in the wine cellar, or brought up for use at table or in the kitchens, were recorded in the cellar book. When the Grey family was in residence at Dunham Massey the accounts were kept weekly, at other times infrequently.
The accounts record the number of bottles of each of thirty types of wines and spirits in stock at the beginning of the week, the quantities added to the stock during the week, and the number of bottles of each beverage consumed on each day of the week. The total consumption of each beverage during the week is calculated, and the quantity of stock remaining. Sales of wines and spirits to the household staff are also recorded.
The cellar books provide information on the drinking habits and preferences of the period, and on the price of wines and spirits. They also constitute a record of the occupancy of Dunham Massey by the Grey family, and a record of special occasions such as parties and dinners, which are frequently identified in later volumes.
[See also other cellar records, EGR7/10 below.]