The Great Pudding Robbery of 1718

An amusing little story, taken from Rendle and Norman’s The inns of old Southwark and their associations (1888), another of those charming antiquarian volumes so full of observation and detail. Covering areas transpontine, there’s some significant material on the sanctuaries that I shall return to. As a taster, here’s an account of Mr Austin’s gargantuan dessert, and it’s seizure by the inhabitants of Southwark Mint, implying for the latter a level of organization, and a desperate hunger.

[I]n May 1718, James Austin, ‘inventor of the Persian ink powder,’ desiring to give his customers a substantial proof of his gratitude, invited them to partake of an immense plum pudding weighing 1000 lbs., a baked pudding of a foot square, and the best piece of an ox roasted. The principal dish was put in the copper ‘at the Red Lion by the Mint,’ and had to boil fourteen days. From there it was brought to the Swan Tavern on Fish Street Hill, accompanied by a band playing, ‘What lumps of pudding my mother gave me.’ The drum matched the pudding, being 18 feet 2 inches long and 4 feet in diameter, drawn by ‘a device fixt on six asses.’ Finally, the monstrous pudding was to be divided in St. George’s Fields, but apparently the smell and the ‘enough for all’ size of it was too much for the Minters; the escort was routed, the pudding taken and devoured; the whole ceremony being thus brought to an end before Mr. Austin’s customers could have a chance.

Source: Rendle, W.,  and Norman, P., The inns of old Southwark and their associations (1888), p286-7. Online at Archive.org.

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