rancid cheese, nettle soup and whisky

Not so long ago, the oldest patient at the Gimcrack died. He was 104 at the time, still with all his faculties intact. When he was interviewed by a local paper the previous year, he put his longevity down to a glass of whisky a day and an overriding interest in horse racing. “Everyone needs a hobby” he said.

image found here

Thomas Parr arrived at his great age by a different regime

Parr was said to have been born in 1483 near Shrewsbury, possibly at Wollaston. He joined the army around 1500 and did not marry until he was 80 years old. He had two children, both of whom died in infancy. He existed and even thrived on a diet of “subrancid cheese and milk in every form, coarse and hard bread and small drink, generally sour whey

Milk Bottle Chandelier ($2112.50) found here

When he was about 100 years old, he supposedly had an affair and fathered a child born out of wedlock. After the death of his first wife, he married a second time at the alleged age of 122 to Catherine Milton who presented him with a child.

world’s oldest father (?) found here

As news of his purported age spread, ‘Old Parr’ became a national celebrity and was painted by Rubens and Van Dyck. In 1635, the Earl of Arundel brought him to London to meet Charles I. Charles asked what Parr had done that was greater than any other man, and the latter replied that he had performed penance (for his affair) at the age of 100.

image found here

A post-mortem was performed on Parr’s body. No apparent cause of death could be determined, and it was assumed that he had simply died of overexposure. A modern interpretation of the results of the autopsy suggest that Thomas Parr was probably under 70 years of age. It is possible that Parr’s records were confused with those of his grandfather. 

Henry Jenkins was said to have been 169 years old at his death

Jenkins’s age was investigated by Ann Saville, who lived near him in Bolton-on-Swale. Several of the other villagers were about a hundred, and they said he was an old man even when they were children. He could remember historical events from ancient times. And he was often consulted by lawyers about traditional land rights.

Jenkins’ Memorial found here

One of the lawyers told how he went to see Henry Jenkins in his cottage. Outside was an old man. The lawyer asked him a question, and the man said to go inside and see his father about it. In the cottage was an aged “wreck of humanity” nodding by the fire. He was too old to understand the question. “Ask my father”, he mumbled, pointing to the back door. Out in the yard was Old Jenkins, aged 166. He was busily chopping wood, and looked younger than his grandson. His mind was perfectly clear and he told the lawyer all he wanted to know.

Wood Chopper found here

Ann Saville asked him the secret of his long life, and again he was clear. Drink plenty of tar-water and nettle soup, he advised, wear flannel next to the skin and eat simply – bread and cheese, raw onion and cold meat. Old Jenkins could never read or write. Up to the age of 161 he worked every day in his garden or doing odd jobs. For some time he was butler in the house of a local lord. The date of his service there is recorded, giving proof* of his great age.

Nettle Soup with Seared Scallop & Candied Orange Peel found here

*Take with more than one grain of salt

the luckless duck

A letter to the Editor of The Times, May 1878

Sir,

Last year you recorded the curious incident that a wagtail had built her nest on the framework beneath a third class carriage on the London and South-Western Railway, running between Cosham and Havant four times daily. The male bird was regularly observed by the station master to be waiting with manifest interest and anxiety for the return of his family from their periodical tours.

Australian Wagtail (image by David Satterthwaite)

I would like to again report the somewhat remarkable coincidence that this year the same bird has returned and built her nest in precisely the same position under a third class carriage, and with her family of four little ones, takes the same daily return journeys from Cosham to Havant.

Cosham Home Guard found here

The framework being nearly the same in all the carriages, it is difficult to account for the selection of third class. The same interest and anxiety has been evinced by the male bird. During the absence of his family he promenades or rests impatiently on the telegraph wires, but no sooner are the carriages shunted into the siding than he enters the nest, doubtless to exercise the supervision of a good father.

Good father found here

And from The High Peak Advertiser, August 1893

Nearly 300 years ago in 1601, a duck was seen flying towards an ash tree in the village of Sheldon. It entered the tree and then mysteriously disappeared. This tale was passed down from one generation to the next and the tree became known as the duck tree.

Flying Duck Game found here

Recently the tree became decayed at the bottom and it was cut down and sold to Messrs. Wilson and Son, joiners of Ashford. When it was cut open, two boards taken from the centre gave unmistakable evidence of the genuineness of the lost duck story.

Duck carved from a single grain of rice found here

On one side of each of these boards, about an inch in thickness, was the perfect form of a full sized duck, minus the feet and tail. The body measured 8 inches across and the length from beak down was 21 inches. The bird appears to have flown head foremost into a hole which was known to be in the tree, and couldn’t get out again. In the course of time, the parts became united and thus there was an end to the duck.

recipe for Duck with Root Beer Glaze found here