The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Badly-made cheese.

On the 16th June 1759, the following item appeared in the Ipswich Journal

To Suffolk Farmers----The Suffolk Cheese being so badly made for some years past, the Lords of the Admiralty have thought it fit to exclude it from the Royal Navy for one year. By it being made better it is recommended for the future, it being no worse than two meal sleet leaving only the morning milk of which cheese is made or four meal, putting in all the morning milk on the day the cheese is made. It is hoped the dairymen will desist from making cheese from November till the beginning of May as it is of bad quality and has brought great odium to the country cheese.

We were most amused to see that a new enterprise has started out called Suffolk farmhouse Cheeses. This requires our support and we should all buy our cheese from them at:
2 Park Cottages,
Shrubland Park,
We therefore challenged them to prove that their 'Suffolk' cheese was better than the stuff that the Lords of the Admiralty thought it fit to exclude it from the Royal Navy for one year. Jason wrote back wondering where we get a sample of the cheese that so offended the admiralty. No problem, I thought. Last year, we furnished Nethergate brewery with a recipe of a victorian brew of beer which we discovered from the notebook of the great David Ward who ran Ward's Brewery in Foxearth. They brewed a batch from the recipe and it turned out to be excellent. It is selling well. It would be a challenge to find a 1760 Suffolk Cheese recipe which we would do our best to meet. And I shall dress up like Dr Johnson to give my verdict on the difference in quality.

So please stop buying the bland wretched waxy stuff from that naughty supermarket and surprise yourself with the proper cheese from Jason and Katherine, and please, please will someone find a recipe for a 250 year-old Suffolk Cheese! This would be a splendid historical recreation.

It would seem that Cheese was always a valuable export from East Anglia. William Camden, the historian and cartographer, for example, described the Essex marshlands as 'plentifull in grasse, and rich in cattaille, but sheepe especially, where all their doing is in making of Cheese- and there shall ye have men take the womens office in hand and milk Ewes, whence these huge thicke cheeses are made that are vented and sould not onely into all parts of England but into forraign nations also.


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