Margarine & Mock Turtle

Margarine and Mock Turtle – Victorians and their Diet

by Chris Upton
Thursday 24th April 2014


A thought provoking talk by Chris Upton, which followed the AGM: the meagre Workhouse diet of the 1830s was, at that time, less than a prisoner rations. Early take-away foods that were popular in the 19th century were tripe and onions, cow heel peel, grape haze and bacon (hard little peas that had been previously soaked for 17hrs) and the top of the menu was mutton, caper sauce and turnips.

Water was so dirty and unsafe to drink, that beer was the staple part of the working class diet and pubs were a focal point of a workingman’s life.  As few had bank accounts, the pubs also held tabs for such things as a funeral or Christmas fund savings.

Over two thirds of a family’s income was spent on food.  With the increase of manufacturing the Midlands became well known for many new foods and beverages still well known today – Cadbury’s cocoa, HP Sauce, named after the Houses of Parliament, Byrd’s custard and Ty-phoo tea are examples.

Manufactured foods were often supplemented with sawdust, chalk and other nasty additives, which resulted in laws being passed to stop the adulteration of foodstuffs in production. It is indeed, food for thought, when one confronts the mountains of high quality food available at affordable prices, in today’s supermarkets.

News and update

To say farewell to much loved and valued member of the Almonry Heritage Centre staff Mari Griffiths (pictured), a small group of the VEHS members recently met, for tea and cakes and a presentation.  Mari has been a member of the hard working Almonry staff for over 5 years, and leaves to spend more time on her interests in creative artwork and history. At the recent Society AGM, at which Chairman, John Kyte, was unanimously re-elected for another year, he was delighted to welcome four new members to the Committee; Richard Ball, Gerry Harte, Ivor Martin and Wendy Wagstaff.  He expressed confidence in the future of the Society with its latest developments in working with the Church Conservation Trust, the Worcestershire County Archaeological Department and the continued development of the Almonry museum collection.

Recent Posts