Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Curious Incident of the Sandwiches in the Sunshine.

One hot August afternoon in 1890, Mrs. Louisa Burnham, wife of the rector of St. Peter's, Cogenhoe, hosted a lawn tea for the local members of the Girl's Friendly Society. The rector, a keen archer, delighted the guests with his bow. The Bozeat Brass Band, of local acclaim, performed. But late storms cut the proceedings short. By the following day, most of two dozen people - including several of the tuneful bandsmen - were down with severe stomach pains, frequent vomiting and general distress. The suspicion fell quickly on the potted beef sandwiches as those who hadn't partaken were fine. The story of the "Wholesale Poisoning" at a rectory made headlines across the country. Mrs. Burnham took to the local paper to protest: "While no one regrets more strongly than I that these distressing cases of illness should have occurred, I must yet protest against the disaster being attributed to the provisions supplied from this house, and to my excellent cook who sent them to table." Dr. Hawkes, a local physician, attended and, alas, concluded, it was the beef. The meat had been prepared two days in advance and then left out on a sultry August day. Despite the "pardonable anxiety" of the rector's wife, it was the sandwiches. The victims suffered sharply for some time but all recovered, eventually. 
For quite a different issue with a clergyman's cook, see the tragic story of the Rev. Joseph Weedow, of East Morton, Yorkshire, included in the new Kindle collection: Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1
Don't have a Kindle? Nor do I. There is a free app available for your smartphone and tablet. Thank you.

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