Ann’s getting all Christmassy…
As you draw up your Christmas dinner cooking timetable, spare a thought for the turkey. They’ve been around in this country since the 16th Century – Henry VIII had one at his Christmas dinner.
But before the arrival of the railways the only way to get them to the London market was to walk them there.
Daniel Defoe, travelling in East Anglia in the 18th Century, was told that 150,000 turkeys a year were brought to London by drovers. Each flock consisted of between 300 and 1000 birds, making their slow way to Smithfield, feet sometimes dipped in tar and sand to protect them from the road. Not that we’re talking about the tarmac of the A12.
For young birds there were carts with three or four layers, drawn by two horses, which could make the trip to London in a couple of days.
How drovers carried on their trade is a subject now confined to history. But there are still drovers’ roads crisscrossing the countryside. And lots and lots of pub names remember drovers – my current favourite being the Drovers’ Thai restaurant in Powys.
For more foodie thoughts – and to order your turkey – join my foodies' walk this Saturday December 7, 10 am at Monument tube, Fish St. Hill exit.
A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.