I’d like to introduce you lot to the excellent Foods of England project.
I particularly liked its entry for Suffolk Cheese, a product that is no longer made for reasons that will become obvious. Until the mid-18th Century it was used by the Royal Navy to feed its sailors, but by all accounts it was dry, salty and so hard there were many stories and jokes about the difficulty of eating it.
Naval administrator Samuel Pepys wrote that he was upset when his domestic staff complained about having to eat it. On the 19th December 1825, The Hampshire Chronicle carried a notice that read: ‘As characteristic of Suffolk cheese, it said that a vessel once laden, one half with grindstones and the other half with the above commodity, on arriving at its destination it was found that the rats had consumed all the grindstones, but left the cheeses untouched.’
Historian NAM Rodger reports that the Navy gave up provisioning ships with the stuff in 1758, no doubt to loud cheering from the foc’sl. My crews, of course, are always provided with the finest cheese I can afford…
Other sea related entries are hardtack or ships biscuits (a nuclear bomb test was named after them), grog, bumpo, and Cheshire cheese (another Naval staple).
My thanks to Sarah Coxson for the tip!
I don’t know how true all this is – but it makes a damned good story… Keep out of the coffins folks!
Read more about it here, here, here and here.
‘For anyone who enjoys wandering out onto coastal flats during low-tide to explore the terrain, Britain’s Broomway has all the appearances of the perfect gateway. The tidal foot path, so-named for the hundreds of broomsticks that once marked its boundaries, has for nearly 600 years provided access from Essex, England to the farming communities of nearby Foulness Island.
‘The Broomway, however, is more dangerous than its name implies… For at least 100 people, and likely many more, it’s one walk they never returned from.
‘To access the Broomway, you must first leave the mainland of Essex at a point called Wakering Stairs. You then reach a causeway of brick and debris that takes you over the ominous Black Grounds, a kind of quicksand that locals refer to simply as “coffins.” Once on the Broomway, you’ll walk across a firm, silvery mudflat called the Maplin Sands.’
‘I’ve just finished writing up a paper on images of Jack Tar between 1760 and 1860. I’ve rather fallen in love with Jack Tar. When my analytical brain was idling, I wondered why his figure appealed to me. After all, he’s often thoughtless, drunk, and womanizing.’
For the rest, see:
All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor