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The Fernhurst Society

Tales from the Archives - 25

Tea at Verdley

Jean Crossley (born 1906), grand-daughter of Sir Felix Schuster, recalls that a particular pleasure of visiting Verdley during her childhood was the delicious food!

Accustomed as they became from 1915 onwards to school food – and war time food at that – the meals at Verdley were a revelation.

Tea was her favourite meal.  It really was a meal in those days and at Verdley it was a feast.  The delicate slices of thin bread and butter and the paper-thin triangular sandwiches filled with Gentlemen’s Relish which were considered essential for drawing room tea were not provided for the nursery, but there was butter from the home farm to spread on our bread and dark, glutinous jelly that had been boiled for so long and kept for so many years that it tasted of burnt sugar and only marginally of some unidentifiable fruit.  There would also be a honeycomb in a square china dish, plum cake, ginger bread, brandy snaps, shortbread and little sponge cakes cut out into heart or diamond shapes and coated with pink, white or chocolate icing.

There was little or no imported fruit in those days, but at Verdley there were hothouse peaches, nectarines and grapes which would be served on a vine or Virginia creeper leaves on white china plates simulating basketwork.  In the orchard the children would find small, scarlet windfall apples, cold and wet from lying in the grass, with that unforgettable, slightly buttery taste that the first apples of the year always have.

If you would like to know more about this story, or research other local topics, the Archive is open on Tuesdays, 2.30-5pm in the Village Hall. Other times by arrangement.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive

One of a series of short articles bringing you some of the incidents from our rich village history. Collated by Christine Maynard, based on documents preserved at the Fernhurst Archives, these originally were published in the monthly Fernhurst News.

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