Cambridge Edition May 2023 - Web


A GIGANTIC GATHERING Cambridge Peace Festival celebrations on Parker’s Piece, July 1814

What resulted was one of the most impressive free outdoor feasts for the public in the country

Rob Payne – included palatable roast fowls, Italian cheese, apple pie, custards, jelly and mince pies; but less pleasantly, roast udder, stewed eels and pig’s face, too. However, the menu celebrating Queen Victoria’s coronation was to be rather more plain ‘good old English fare’. Particularly impressive were the quantities served and how the whole event was organised; transporting all the food to the centre of Parker’s Piece was no mean feat. Meat, pudding, beer, tablecloths, decorations and music – coordinating committees worked tirelessly every day up to the event. Carpenters constructed tables, and stewards, carvers and waiters were found from the local parishes. Colleges and halls boiled and roasted the meat given at cost by local butchers, as well as cooking the plum puddings. Over a thousand joints of spit- or oven-roasted beef – mutton, pork, veal and bacon – travelled from college kitchens in carts to the serving areas. Meanwhile, 72lb of mustard, 125 gallons of pickles and 4,500 loaves of bread were laid on to go with the meats. To wash all this down, there were nearly 100 barrels of the best ale to drink, with water as well. And to finish it all off, the diners ate 1,608 plum puddings. These were rather plain – flour, raisins, suet, milk and egg – but designed to be filling and served ‘smoking hot’. All this was funded by public donations totalling £1,000, equivalent to £142,000 today. That’s quite an amount

crown-shaped bandstand like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Add to this another 17,000 finely dressed Victorian spectators promenading both in the inner and outer parts of the wheel. To see an impressive engraving of this, go to the lobby of the University Arms, the first hotel in Cambridge, which opened its doors in 1834 – four years before the event. Feasts are celebrations marking particular events, and Cambridge is no stranger to these, with the majority of colleges hosting special feasts such as the December Audit Feast at Jesus College. The menu in 1814 – according to the archivist Dr


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