13. Nov, 2018

The Famous Knaphill Pie

If you have read The Asylum Soul you will know all about Mrs Pengelley's Knaphill Pie. One reader has asked if there was a real recipe. The answer is yes. Bacon & Leek complete with all the 'secret' family ingredients.

The recipe comes from a family who lived in Queens Road, Knaphill at the time the book is set and is known to have been a favourite among those who worked at Brookwood Lunatic Asylum.

Records show that the pie got its name simply because the bacon came from the Middle-White breed of pigs that were bought and reared at the institution. The breed was actually favoured by the asylum's bursar because of the fine quality and quantity of its pork. 


  • Full stove/oven.
  • Melt 2oz knob of lard in large pan.
  • Add 16oz bacon (chopped) and stir for 5 minutes until beginning to slightly brown then allow cooling down slightly.
  • Transfer to deep medium oven dish and add 2 finely chopped leeks.
  • Add level tea spoon of grated garlic and stir again.
  • Grate 8oz strong cheddar cheese and sprinkle over top.
  • Whilst bashing washed King Edward potatoes in saucepan add salt, water and milk and sprinkles of white pepper.
  • When fused set potato into dish on top of other ingredients and add tram-lines with fork and then sprinkle rosemary sparingly on top.
  • Cooking time 1 hour 20 minutes. Check and prod with a long fork every 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven when potato is browned. Allow 10 minute rest.
  • Best served with carrots and cauliflower.

Note: Quantity of ingredients based on 4 served/imperial measurements.



The following article appeared in Writing Magazine, October 2016...

"Many of us see self-publishing as the most obvious route to getting our work in print but what happens after that and how do we market our books?" asks author Mal Foster. 

"In the lead up to the publication of my debut novel The Asylum Soul and given that much of its content could be of local interest, I was more than aware of the need to promote the book on a local platform. A follow-up article in my local newspaper picks up on the Knaphill Pie, an old local recipe which is mentioned in the novel and is a typical example of the marketing avenues that I have recently been exploring. The result, a renewed interest in the book and increased sales!

The Woking Advertiser reported that... ‘Literature is being brought to life and put on the menu at a Knaphill pub thanks to a collaboration with an author in the village. A pie recipe featured in a book... Mal Foster published his debut novel, The Asylum Soul, in May and is thrilled with its five-star reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Readers have praised the writer for his work and said that they can really identify with the fictitious characters and appreciate the diary format of the novel.’

The book tells the story of twenty-three year old Tommy Compton who was incarcerated at the Brookwood Lunatic Asylum in 1929. The asylum was closed in 1994.

The actual recipe for the Knaphill Pie came from a family in Queens Road, Knaphill, near Woking in Surrey whilst I was researching material for the novel. They lent me some old books and there were some loose leaf pieces of paper inside and one fell out with the recipe on. There was a list of ingredients, bacon, leek, cheese, garlic and mashed potato, so all I had to do was to work out how to make the pie.’

In the book the bacon comes from pigs slaughtered in the grounds of the old asylum. I made a couple of my own pies at home and then the landlady at the pub put her own take on it.

The landlady at The Crown, *Sarah Nubeebuckus-Jones who has read the book had a conversation with regulars in the pub about the pie. She then decided to make a version of it and now it’s top of the list on the pub’s main menu.

My advice to everyone is to interrogate their book’s subject matter, try not to overlook the finer points; there could be something there which might just warrant that extra publicity."


* Update: Sadly Sarah and her husband Ade left the Crown pub early in 2019. The pub no longer serves a food menu.