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December 23, 2003

Seafarers Christmas fare - 1805

Thinking of what to post while listening to my favourite radio station is probably not the way to select a topic - but, the wassail, "I saw three ships.. " made me think again of my visit to Victory in Portsmouth. I also remembered what the folk who served on her could have expected for Christmas dinner 1799 - 1814.


HMS Victory (104 guns) launched 1754 at Chatham, still in commision as Flagship Portsmouth as a permanent memorial to Nelson and the men of that age.

She might look pretty as a picture, but she would have been a harsh taskmistress and a really difficult ship to sail. All three deckers were reputed to go faster sideways than ahead, and it took an expert to sail one effectively. That, plus instant responses from her crew.

Christmas fare aboard? Oh yes, Boiled salt beef or mutton,
Boiled dried potatoes (if available)
Boiled cabbage (if available)
Ship's biscuit (weevils optional)
Plumb duff (Made of flour, Ship's Biscuits and any available dried fruit)
Half pint of rum
Two quarts of small beer.

A feast for the crew of 800, all battened down for the blockade of Brest, le Havre or the other French Channel ports.

Posted by The Gray Monk at December 23, 2003 10:08 PM