At 11:00 in Pateley Bridge, on a moist, smooth-targeted Yorkshire day, The Oldest Sweet Shop in England, as rated via Guinness World Records, was already within the midst of its ordinary midmorning rush. At the counter, all grins and punchy one-liners, owner Keith Tordoff changed into measuring out region-pound baggage of sweets from 2 hundred-peculiar glass confectioner’s jars stacked high on the wall at the back of him.
His wife Gloria appeared to help with the call, snapping lids closed with urgency, even as his son Alexander made mild work of refilling the jars for site visitors from the United States, Japan, Germany, Australia, and all components of the UK. Barley sugars modified arms; so did sours, sugar-dusted bonbons, rainbow jelly beans, and perennial favorites Rosie apples, rhubarb, and custards (each unfashionable boiled sweet).
Mornings have been this way for almost two centuries, and nothing adjustments at the confectioner but the day of the week. And but a more in-depth look at the vintage timber counter, beyond the oil lamps, okay beats, and the century-vintage coins sign-in, found out that many customers had been queuing to buy the very same issue: a bag of curious, treacle-colored coins, higher known as Pontefract Cakes, and a sweet that nearby legend claims are the various oldest inside the world. “Everyone loves them, including me,” stated Tordoff, who admits to ingesting around 450g (1lb) of goodies daily. “This constructing started life as an apothecary within the early 1600s, and that’s wherein the tale of Yorkshire licorice – and the Pontefract Cake – surely starts.”
My interest in this unusual Yorkshire candy had been piqued some weeks earlier. As I read its storied records, I found a tale that moved from the Norman conquest in 1066 to The Wars of the Roses within the 15th Century to Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603). There changed into even mention of castle sieges within the mid-17th Century.
As I studied, it seemed as if the licorice had become synonymous with Yorkshire itself. Indeed, hidden in the pages of history, it turned out licorice’s arrival dated to across the eleventh Century, when priests or Crusaders first added the medicinal Mediterranean root to the county, depending on who you ask. I became intrigued by listing attractions related to licorice records: a fairytale citadel, a pageant, a farm, a museum, and candy shops. In unique, one area called saved cropping up: Pontefract, a city with licorice sprouting between the cracks, was placed just one hour to the south-east of Pateley Bridge. I changed into keen to discover greater.
A go-to to the ruined Pontefract Castle gave me some clues. Built from the 1070s onwards, and on the tail, give up a £three.5m refurbishment, the medieval maintenance was the website of multiple royal seizures and many civil wars. It turned into a stomping floor for historic figures consisting of the Grand Old Duke of York, defeated on the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, and King Richard II, supposedly imprisoned and starved to death, treason on the website. The fifth wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, also pops up within the story,
having had an affair at the fort in 1541. The maximum sudden part of the tale is that by using the early 18th Century, Yorkshire’s implementing castle had an entirely distinct cause. By 1720, as demand fashioned the neighborhood economic system for medicinal licorice (at the time, physicians used it as a remedy-all for the whole lot from stomach ulcers and heartburn to colic, bronchitis, tuberculosis), the castle became rented out. Roots have been stored within the fortress dungeons instead of weapons, gunpowder, and prisoners.
“You’re status on what changed as soon as a massive licorice area,” stated Dave Evans, Wakefield Museums and Castles curator, as he confirmed me around the citadel stays. “You want deep trenches to develop licorice nicely – as much as 6ft in-depth – that’s why the castle hillock and its improved grounds have been the best environment. Beneath you are what changed into as soon as gigantic licorice save.” While England hardly ever
becomes quick to enforce castles, one overriding issue prevailed: Yorkshire’s climate and geography perfect the licorice’s temperament some distance better than the warmongers’. Within the timeline, in 1760, it is around this factor that the most crucial dramatis personae in the story make his front. George Dunhill became an apothecary chemist in the Circle of Relatives 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 today.