Bite­sized

We know of his sea­far­ing achieve­ments - but do you know what Nel­son and his crew would have eaten? Ju­dith Tay­lor, our voice of farm­ing from Lud­ham, has the an­swers

EDP Norfolk - - Food And Drink -

Oc­to­ber 21 is Trafal­gar Day – the day, in 1805, of Ad­mi­ral Vis­count Lord Nel­son’s dev­as­tat­ing de­feat of the French and Span­ish Navies, es­tab­lish­ing Bri­tain as the lead­ing world naval power for over a cen­tury. A Nor­folk boy, born on Septem­ber 29, 1758, the sixth of 11 chil­dren, to a cler­gy­man and his wife at Burn­ham Thorpe, Nel­son joined the Navy aged just 12 years old.

Food on HMS Vic­tory wasn’t too bad, al­though mo­not­o­nous. The 821 sailors each con­sumed around 5,000 calo­ries a day, all cooked on a sur­pris­ingly small Brodie stove. They gen­er­ally had one hot meal a day which, by the time they ate it, was usu­ally cold. Boiled beef and suet pud­dings or boiled pork and peas were com­mon meals but also spit-roasted chick­ens and fresh meat were oc­ca­sion­ally en­joyed. At their own

Mark­ing Trafal­gar Day at Great Yar­mouth last year ex­pense the sea­men were al­lowed to keep live an­i­mals and chick­ens on board.

For break­fast the men ate an oat­meal por­ridge sweet­ened with mo­lasses called “bur­goo”. Bis­cuits, peas and oat­meal were stored in casks or bread bags in the hold, al­though some went bad as bar­rels leaked and be­came in­fested with mag­gots and rats. Drink­ing wa­ter was in short sup­ply, so men drank beer with lemon juice added in an at­tempt to pre­vent scurvy, and rum and spir­its were reg­u­larly smug­gled on board – drunk­en­ness was a big prob­lem!

Did you know that when Nel­son was fa­tally in­jured on Trafal­gar Day from a gun­shot wound fired by a French sniper he was pick­led? He was put in­side a cask of brandy to pre­serve his body on Oc­to­ber 22, 1805 and trans­ported to Gi­bral­tar aboard HMS Vic­tory.

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