Traditionally British – the history of the Sunday lunch

 When we think about things that are traditionally British we conjure up images of having a cup of tea to solve all problems, queueing politely and having the ability to strike up a conversation with a stranger about the weather. Many would argue though that the key ingredient that differentiates us from the world is a roast dinner on a Sunday.  Here we look at the historic tradition and how it became synonymous with being British.

The British Sunday lunch is steeped in history that dates back more than 500 years to the reign of King Henry VII in 1485. Every Sunday, the King’s royal guard would roast beef over an open fire before going to church.  On his return, the meat was cooked and ready for his lunch.

This led the noble protectors to acquire the nickname of ‘Beefeaters’ and it’s a term we still use today for the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London.

The practice of placing the beef on to cook before church took off quickly, and became popular because the meat could be cooked with root vegetables like turnips, to make a complete meal. Interestingly, Yorkshire puddings were originally cooked beneath the beef to catch all the dripping juices, hence its original name of ‘dripping pudding’.  This was then served as a starter, bulking out the stomach, as meat costs were at a premium.

It took another 300 years before potatoes joined the luscious lunch though. Introduced first to the UK by explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, potatoes were originally frowned upon and didn’t grow in popularity until the late 1700s.  With food shortages across the country, potatoes were deemed to be a saviour, and the working class was persuaded to include them as a main part of their daily meals.

By the 18th Century, word of the British love of roast beef began to spread overseas, and

the French began referring to Briton’s as ‘les rosbifs’ (the roast beefs).

Beef still features as an ever popular star of a Sunday lunch, however, it’s not uncommon to find roast chicken, pork or lamb in its place now, with their paired accompaniments.

At Deans Place we offer a selection of Sunday lunches, including beef. All our roasts are served with potatoes and a selection of seasonal vegetables in both The Dining Room and Terrace & Bar from 12.30pm – 2.30pm.

What’s more, eat in The Dining Room on selected Sundays and your lunch will be accompanied by mellow music. Performed on our grand piano, jazz up your Sunday by finding out more about dining with us here