22nd April 2011. Say Cheese!

Pierce the ploughman’s Crede c 1394, records the traditional food of bread, cheese and ale.

download (22)

Today in 2011, the Melton [Mowbray] Times reported that Nationwide Administrators were seeking a buyer for the Quenby Hall Dairy Ltd., established in 2005. 

Stilton had been made on the site for 250 years and the Hall in Leicestershire, was one of only six sites to make Stilton cheese. It appears they were having cash-flow problems, due to over-expansion.

No buyer was found for business in 2011, but a product recall in the US and Canada, as a result of a reported problem with Listeria, couldn’t have helped.(1)

During World War II cheese was eventually rationed (2) and the Ministry of Food (MOF), stipulated that only one variety of cheese could be made, a hard cheddar-like product, called National Cheese, which would have been accompanied by a slice of the dry-wholemeal, National Loaf.

Cheese came off ration in 1954 and it was then in the 1950s, that the Cheese Bureau began to extol the virtues of the Ploughmans’ Lunch. The idea was also promoted by the Brewers’ Society in an attempt to boost lunchtime trade.

The earliest reference according to Oxford English Dictionary( OED) to Ploughman’s Lunch is to be found in The Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott, by John G. Lockhart (1837): not the pub meal of today!

The village of Stilton, near Peterborough was historically part of Huntingdonshire. In 1743 the landlord of the Bell, a coaching inn on the Great North Road, started to sell a blue-veined cheese which the travellers began to call Stilton. In fact, it is said, the publican, Cooper Thornhill, had discovered it on a farm in nearby Melton Mowbray.

Though milk is undifferentiated as to area, cheese is identified by place and style such as Cheddar and Stilton.

Under European Union (EU) Regulations, Stilton has Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which makes it unlawful to sell, if not made in the designated areas: Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Cheese and milk are promoted as full of key elements for life, full as they are with the Calcium-Phosphorus group of minerals found in bovine milk. Next to Calcium, Phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the human body.

Nowadays Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) is used in production of Stilton cheese, which avoids the supposedly more harmful sodium.(Na).

In the 1950s one of the early, post-war, artisan cheese makers, Lucy Appleby used calico instead of wax to cover her cheese, which enabled it to breathe.

Selling initially through the Milk Marketing Board (MMB), in the 1980s Lucy formed the Specialist Cheese Makers’ Association to lobby for the preservation of unpasteurised cheese.

Along with husband Lance, she was to win the battle against a ban in Britain of pasteurisation of her speciality Cheshire cheese.

The Author remembers the morsels of cheese of the time wrapped in cloth, and the wonderful rind which made the teeth squeak when eaten: lovely!

Cheese is as old as time: David escaped across the Jordan fed with cheese of kine: 1 Sam 17-18 and 2 Sam 17-29.


(1) Reported in foodmanufacturer.co.uk/no buyer for cheese maker.

(2) Rationed on 5th May 1941 and de-rationed May 1954.

Ref: wikipedia.org/ploughmans’_lunch.Pic Ref.

Ref: British Library MS and Trinity College Cambridge MS.

Ref: Daily Telegraph Obituaries May 2008/Lucy Appleby.

Ref: phosphorusstraightdope. Com./ QI Daily Telegraph, Saturday, October 13th 2012 Molly Oldfield and John Mitchinson.

Ref: foodmanufacturer.co.uk. 2011.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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