At eleven:00 in Pateley Bridge, on a damp, smooth-centered Yorkshire day, The Oldest Sweet Shop in England, as rated through Guinness World Records, is already amid its normal midmorning rush. At the counter, all grins and punchy one-liners, owner Keith Tordoff became measuring out zone-pound bags of sweets from 2 hundred-bizarre glass confectioner’s jars stacked excessively on the wall behind him.
His spouse Gloria appeared to assist with the call, snapping lids closed with urgency, even as his son Alexander made mild work of refilling the jars for visitors from America, Japan, Germany, Australia, and all parts of the UK. Barley sugars changed fingers; so did sours, sugar-dusted bonbons, rainbow jelly beans, and perennial favorites Rosie apples, rhubarb, and custards (each retro-boiled sweet).
Mornings had been this manner for almost centuries, and not anything modifications at the confectioner but the day of the week. And but a better take a look at the antique wooden counter, past the oil lamps, very wall beams, and the century-vintage coins sign up, found out that many customers were queuing to shop for the very identical factor: a bag of curious, treacle-colored cash, higher known as Pontefract Cakes, and a candy that neighborhood legend claims are among the oldest within the world.
“Everyone loves them, including me,” stated Tordoff, who admits to eating around 450g (1lb) of chocolates daily. “This building started an existence as an apothecary inside the early 1600s, and that’s in which the story of Yorkshire licorice – and the Pontefract Cake – really starts offevolved.”
My interest approximately this strange Yorkshire candy had initially been piqued some weeks earlier. As I studied its storied records, I found a tale that moved from the Norman conquest in 1066 to The Wars of the Roses in the Fifteenth Century to Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603). There was even mention of fort sieges within the mid-seventeenth Century. As I read, it seemed as if the licorice had become synonymous with Yorkshire.
Indeed, hidden within the pages of history, it became our licorice’s arrival date to the 11th Century, when clergy members or Crusaders first introduced the medicinal Mediterranean root to the county, depending on who you ask. I was intrigued by listing attractions associated with licorice records: a fairytale castle, a pageant, a farm, a museum, and sweet shops. In precise, one region name stored cropping up: Pontefract, a town with licorice sprouting between the cracks, which changed into located simply one hour to the southeast of Pateley Bridge. I turned into eager to discover more.
A visit to the ruined Pontefract Castle gave me a few clues. Built from the 1070s onwards, and on the tail quit of a £three.5m refurbishment, the medieval maintenance turned into the web page of a couple of royal seizures and many civil wars. It became a stomping ground for historical figures along with the Grand Old Duke of York, defeated on the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, and King Richard II, supposedly imprisoned and starved to death for treason at the web page. The fifth wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, also pops up in the story, having had an affair on the citadel in 1541.
But possibly the maximum surprising part of the story is that with the aid of the early 18th Century, Yorkshire’s enforcing fort had a wholly exceptional purpose. By 1720, as demand formed the neighborhood financial system for medicinal licorice (at the time, physicians used it as a cure-involved in the whole thing from stomach ulcers and heartburn to colic, bronchitis, and tuberculosis), the fort turned into rented out. Roots were stored inside the citadel dungeons in preference to weapons, gunpowder, and prisoners.
“You’re standing on what changed into as soon as a big licorice field,” stated Dave Evans, curator of Wakefield Museums and Castles, as he confirmed me across the citadel remains. “You need deep trenches to grow licorice well – as much as 6ft in depth – which is why the fort hillock and its extended grounds have been the ideal surroundings. Beneath you is what was as soon as a large licorice store.” While England rarely becomes brief aboutout implementing castles, one overriding issue prevailed: Yorkshire’s climate and geography suited the licorice’s temperament a long way higher thid the warmongers’.
Around this time in the timeline, in 1760, the maximum important dramatis personae inside the story make his front. George Dunhill was an apothecary chemist inside the family alternate in Pontefract. By including sugar in licorice (then a dissolvable, medicinal pastel), he created a chewable non-medicinal lozenge, inventing the sweet as we comprehend it nowadays.