In 2009, Derek Sharman managed a Heritage Lottery funded project for the Berwick Slow Food Group, exploring the food heritage of north Northumberland.
The activities included a series of talks and workshop sessions looking at different aspects of producing and processing food and drink in the area in the past.
Berwick’s Heritage Open Days weekend was given a food-related theme and visitors were able to meet characters around the town who brought Berwick’s food, farming and fishing past to life and explore historic buildings that are rarely opened to the public, including an 18th century ice-house and a salmon fishermen’s shiel
A special exhibition in the Guildhall illustrated how food and drink were produced and sold in Victorian times.
At the Quayside, visitors were able to step aboard the “Reaper”, one of the last sailing vessels from the age of the great herring fishing fleets.
The event also coincided with the Berwick Food and Beer Festival, which featured Victorian soldiers cooking on an authentic field kitchen of the period and a display of rare breeds animals organised by Derek Sharman. Display panes n Berwick Parish Church illustrated the origins of the traditional Harvest Festival, which had its origins in the Victorian period.
The Palace Green provided a splendid setting for the Belford Players to stage a performance of their “Mad Hatter’s Posh Party”.
Ford & Etal Victorian Dey
Ford and Etal Estates hosted a programme of activities and displays with a Victorian food and farming theme.
Belford Players performed “The Mad Hatter’s Posh Party” in the grounds of Ford Castle. This was not just a tea party but breakfast, lunch and dinner too - and all in under an hour and with many references to local food products.
At Heatherslaw Cornmill, the Berwick-based Brass Bastion Theatre Group performed “Grain”, the first of two dramatic scenes devised by Chris Green in which the miller was running short of grain until a mysterious stranger appeared and offered him an unending supply if he would agree to sign an ancient document.
An amusing second scene was called “The Trial of the Loaf”.
The final scene, entitled “Harvest”, was staged in the Lady Waterford Hall in Ford which was built as the village school in the 1860s and decorated by murals depicting Biblical scenes painted by Lady Waterford herself. The performance was based on a supposed meeting between Lady Waterford and John Ruskin, who is caught up in a harvest festival procession
Paxton House Georgian Kitchen
As a finale to the Slow Food heritage project, food from the Georgian period was presemted in the 18th century surroundings of Paxton House and Gardens.
There were opportunities to visit the restored 18th century kitchen and see how food was cooked in the ovens and open ranges, with Paxton House’s education officer, Martha Andrews
Local professional caterer Livvy Cawthorn set up a display in the House illustrating a menu of various dishes from Georgian times and re-enactors from “Best of Times and Worst of Times” staged a pic-nic in the grounds, a novel idea recently imported from France.