A CHRISTMAS pudding dated 1900 has been donated to Portsmouth’s Royal Navy museum - after being found at the back of a cupboard.
The 111-year-old tinned pud, sent to members of the Naval Brigade during the Boer War, bears the message: ‘For the Naval Brigade, In the Front, With Miss Weston’s Best Christmas & New Year, 1900, Wishes’.
The label also carries the following instructions: ‘This pudding is ready for use but may be boiled for an hour if required hot.’
The name Miss Weston refers to Agnes ‘Aggie’ Weston, known as the Mother of the Navy, who took up hospital visiting and parish work and subsequently began a correspondence with a sailor who asked her to write to him.
This developed into her being the devoted friend of sailors, superintendent of the Royal Naval Temperance Society and ultimately founder of the Royal Naval Sailors’ Rests at Devonport and Portsmouth. Shortly before her death she was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1918 and was buried with full naval honours.
Victoria Ingles, collections manager at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: ‘We received a call from a lady wanting to know if we would be interested in a tinned Christmas pudding. It had been in her kitchen cupboard since her husband’s death but she knew little else about it other than it had been in his family for many years so this sparked our interest to try and find out more.’
The tin has never been opened and in order to preserve it as an artefact it will remain closed. Experts say that whilst the pudding is still inside, due to the deterioration of the tin it is highly unlikely that the contents would still be edible.