What the Dickens!

‘Unsophisticated ALES & STOUTS. GOOD BEDS’ so used to read a sign on the wall of the Leather Bottle pub, Cobham, Kent, before the pub was restored. The Leather Bottle was frequented by Charles Dickens and is mentioned in his Pickwick Papers. Clearly, unsophisticated in this sense means pure and unadulterated. Pity the same can’t be said of many present day ales and stouts. Source, photograph in The Legacy of England, third edition, B.T. Batsford, London,1946-47.

Royal Navy tucker in the 19th century
In 1808 seamen’s rations in the Royal Navy consisted of – per person per week – seven pounds (3.2 kilograms) of bisket (biscuit),seven gallons (31.8 litres) of beer, four pounds (1.8kg) of beef, 2 pounds (.9kg) of pork, two pints (950ml) of peas, one and a half pints (700ml) of oats, six ounces (170mg) of sugar, six ounces of butter, twelve ounces (340mg) of cheese.

Apparently the food was often overly well-hung before it got to the mess but the beer ration it was washed down with works out to just over 12 stubbies (375ml) per day. There was also a daily grog ration (a quarter pint of full-strength rum mixed with a pint of water) so life on the ocean wave had some compensations. Source, The Mammoth Book of Life Before the Mast, editor Jon E. Lewis, Robinson, London, 2001.

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