Food, glorious food

Within the collection cared for by Hampshire Cultural Trust, there are some fascinating connections to food. Here is a showcase of some of the most curious, bewildering and very much inedible parts of the collection.

The world's oldest wedding cake

Believed to be the oldest wedding cake in the world, this fruit cake was displayed in Philpott's bakery in Basingstoke until 1964 when it was moved to the bakery's loft.

The cake is in remarkably good condition considering its age, with the large crack across the centre of the cake caused by bombs dropping over Basingstoke in August 1940. You can see the cake on display at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke!

The shop front of C.H Philpott at 22 Potters Lane, Basingstoke

A cured ham

This one-of-a-kind item from our collection certainly provokes more questions than answers. Two hams were cured in 1875 (149 years ago!) at Hilton in Dorset. One of these was then eaten to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 with the family then having moved to Manor Farm at King's Somborne. The one we have in our collections has been curing ever since. We don't entirely know why the ham was kept for so long or why it was decided that the museum collection needed it, but we still have it in our stores at Chilcomb, Winchester.

Valentine's Meat Juice

This unopened bottle of Valentine's Meat Juice, named for its creator Mann Valentine, was originally part of a World War One Canadian food parcel. The 'juice' was said to be a protein and nutrient-packed concoction made from boiling beef bones. It was marketed as a miracle cure after Valentine had seen the positive effects of giving the drink to his ill wife who then made a swift recovery. The product made Valentine a fortune, some of which he put towards founding his namesake museum in Richmond, Virginia.

EM1999.109.1- Valentine's Meat Juice, manufactured in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

See the world's oldest wedding cake at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke.

Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery | Hampshire Cultural Trust
Since 1984, the Willis Museum has been housed in this impressive early Victorian building that was once Basingstoke’s Town Hall. It is named after George Willis, a local clockmaker, antiquarian and former Mayor of Basingstoke, who became the first honorary curator when the original museum was established in the Mechanics Institute in New Street in 1931.

See more of our collections through our Facebook pages or search through our online collection using the following links:

Hampshire in Old Photographs

Transport in Old Photographs

Online collections | Hampshire Cultural Trust Online Collections

This article was written by:
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Ben Murrey

Collections Assistant/Collections Programme Coordinator who looks after objects and makes them accessible to the public.
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