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- Confectionery in Yorkshire Through Time - Amberley Publishing.
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There was even mention of castle sieges in the midth Century. As I read on, it seemed as if the liquorice had become synonymous with Yorkshire itself.
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I was intruiged by the list of attractions related to the history of liquorice: a fairytale castle, a festival, a farm, a museum and sweet shops. In particular, one place name kept cropping up: Pontefract, a town with liquorice sprouting between the cracks, which was located just one hour to the south-east of Pateley Bridge. I was keen to find out more.
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A visit to the ruined Pontefract Castle gave me some clues. It was a stomping ground for historical figures such as the Grand Old Duke of York, defeated at the Battle of Wakefield in , and King Richard II, who was supposedly imprisoned and starved to death for treason on the site. Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, pops up in the story, too, having had an affair at the castle in By , as demand shaped the local economy for medicinal liquorice at the time physicians used it as a cure-all for everything from stomach ulcers and heartburn to colic, bronchitis and tuberculosis , the castle was rented out and roots were stored in the castle dungeons instead of weapons, gunpowder and prisoners.
Beneath you is what was once a gigantic liquorice store. It is around this point in the timeline, in , that the most important dramatis personae in the story makes his entrance. George Dunhill was an apothecary chemist in the family trade in Pontefract, and by adding sugar to liquorice then a dissolvable, medicinal pastel he created a chewable non-medicinal lozenge, inventing the sweet as we know it today.
Over the years, a sweet empire boomed in the surrounding towns, and by the 19th Century, around 20 sweet companies had appeared.click
The strange story of Britain’s oldest sweet
Still, nothing could save the confectioners from globalisation. Yet one thing remains true: the embossed castle stamp still takes pride of place on each sweet.
And yet there could be a new twist in the tale. Just outside Pontefract, at Farmer Copleys shop and dairy farm, Heather Copley and her husband Robert have recently become the only present-day farmers to grow liquorice root successfully in the UK.
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Complicating factors to achieve a fruitful crop include the right soil and climatic conditions, and since liquorice farming fell out of fashion, few farmers take up the challenge.