Pucklechurch and the death of a king….

King Edmund of Wessex

According to The Folklore of Gloucestershire by Roy Palmer, there was a traditional dish in the south of the county known as whitepot, and it was served at Whit Sunday “revels”.

The ingredients of whitepot were:

“….four quarts of milk, a pound of flour, a pound of golden syrup, eight eggs, two ounces of butter, two nutmegs and mixed spice to taste. The flour, eggs, syrup and spice were first beaten in a pan. Next the milk was boiled and stirred into the ingredients to make a paste, and then the butter was dotted in small pieces on the top. At the last moment three-quarters of a pint of cold water was poured, without stirring, into the middle. The whole thing was baked in an earthenware vessel in a hot oven for an hour, and then gently for a further seven or eight hours. When cool, the mixture became a kind of jelly. It was popular at Pucklechurch and also at Doynton, where it lingered until the late 1950s….”

Well, I lived in Pucklechurch in the late 1950s, and I don’t remember whitepot, which I confess doesn’t sound very appetizing. I mean I like batter dishes and spices, including nutmeg, but the length of time for this recipe seems inordinate to me. The fact that I don’t remember it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist of course.

Um, Devon also claims whitepot  and here is a recipe but I’m not going to argue about who had it first! It was also made with more luxurious (and fattening) incredients, as you can see in the following illustraton.

from savouringthepast.net

The name Pucklechurch often raises a smile, “…. the first attestation of the name of Pucklechurch, in which it is spelt Puclancyrce. The name appears as Pulcrecerce in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name means ‘Pucela’s church’. No, I don’t know anything about Pucela. I don’t know what picture strangers might have when they hear the name, but the village is just north of Bristol, on the last rolling hills of the South Cotswolds, and it is still a beautiful little village.  I wouldn’t mind living there again. To read more about it, go to this article

The book from which I have quoted the above, also names Pucklechurch as a place where there was a field named Littleworth, because it was so hard to work. Other names at other villages were Bare Gains, Break Heart, Empty Purse, Labour in Vain, Starve Acre and Pennyless Pitch. I wouldn’t really know about Littleworth at Pucklechurch, but can vouch that the field immediately outside my home was full of stones and more ammonites than I could collect, some of them huge.

St Aldham

There is also a farm named St Aldham’s Farm (now a nursery), named after an 8th-century missionary from Malmesbury. There is a well named after him on the farm, and its water is said to be “holy and inexhaustible”. I don’t have a picture of this well, which appears to now be concealed. But you can read much more about the well here.

More famously, Pucklechurch was also the scene of a royal death, when King Edmund of the West Saxons died in his hunting lodge, which was behind the (former) Star Inn. The site is still marked on OS maps. The map below is an old OS sheet.

from https://maps.nls.uk
photograph by by Dayoff171, Flikr

[Edmund and] “….his entourage were celebrating the Feast of St Augustine of Canterbury on 26th May 946 when he noticed Liolf (or Liafa) whom he had outlawed some six years earlier. Edmund ordered his cup-bearer to put the man out. A struggle developed. The king joined in. Leolf fatally wounded him with a ‘master dagger’, and fled. The rest of the company was too drunk to intervene. Edmund was buried at Glastonbury Abbey….”

The Murder of King Edmund at Pucklechurch, drawn by Robert Smirke, published in Ashburton’s History of England, 1793 – Getty Images

According to a reference on Wikipedia’s page to Edmund l, there is now a school of thought that Edmund’s death was a political assassination. See K. Halloran, A Murder at Pucklechurch: The Death of King Edmund, 26 May 946. Midland History, Volume 40, Issue 1 (Spring 2015), pp. 120-129.

You can read more about King Edmund here and about St Thomas à Becket Church, Pucklechurch here.

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