We’re celebrating Wimbledon with our Strawberries & Cream-themed sundae - the most delicious partnership of the summer.
Last year’s Wimbledon saw 34,000kg (that’s about the weight of six elephants) of British strawberries devoured by visitors to The All England Tennis Club, as well as 10,000 litres of dairy cream.
But why do we celebrate the world’s greatest tennis event with the iconic pairing? There’s a more interesting history than you may realise…
While strawberries have been in England since the ice age, strawberries & cream as a partnership actually date back to the 1500s. The original combination is credited to one of Henry VIII’s most trusted advisors, Cardinal Wolsey. A hugely influential man in Henry’s court, in some respects he was actually more powerful than the king - and fittingly, he built himself a palace, which we know today as Hampton Court.
Cardinal Wolsey later became known as Lord Chancellor, and with great power comes great responsibility - he was tasked with throwing grand balls and feasts for Henry’s associates. Hampton Court had the largest kitchens in all of Tudor England, and the feasts would often be for over 600 hungry - and demanding - lords and ladies, twice a day.
This meant that a quick, tasty, and crucially uncooked dessert was a necessity as much as a delicacy. Wolsey’s staff would serve a revolutionary (and practical) pairing of strawberries & cream in the beautiful dining halls, unwittingly kickstarting a trend that would last over 500 years.
Tudor traveller Andrew Boorde described the dessert as "rawe crayme undecocted, eaten with strawberyes or hurtes (whortleberry, billberry) is a rurall mannes blanket. I have knowen such blankettes hath put men in jeoperdy of theyr lyves."
Whatever the King deemed worthy automatically became fashionable, and while dairy at the time was seen as peasant food, when Henry’s right-hand man served it, it became a hit. Henry’s physician Bruerin-Champier wrote that English ladies loved their strawberries & cream so much, they often tasked their gardeners with growing their own varieties of strawberries to serve at their own dinner parties. The 16th century saw the beginning of selectively enhancing attributes in the strawberries, making them as sweet, plump and juicy as possible.
But how did they make the jump from that dinner party in 1509, to Wimbledon, which didn’t make its debut until 1877? The year that Wimbledon first took place, strawberries were resolutely on-trend - Tudor history was extremely fashionable, and while strawberries were seasonal for just a few short weeks each year before the modern farming revolution, Wimbledon happened to fall right in the middle of peak season.
So, it was really a case of right place, right time for the most iconic double-act in British sporting history. Love!
Come and join us at our parlours this Wimbledon season for our sundae - a perfect match of Strawberry & Maxi Moo Moo Ice Cream, plus fresh cream, meringues, strawberries & strawberry sauce 🍓