More Than You Wanted to Know

My sister-in-law asked in an email:
> Did you know this?

Yes, I did. If you wonder what the stuff looks like, Navy peacoats, the heavy wool overcoats sailors wear, are made of Melton cloth. It’s so tightly woven you can’t see the weave. It’s also got clay (fuller’s earth) pounded into it to make it even heavier and pretty much waterproof. Because of the fulling, you can’t dye it bright colors. Browns, blues, grays and dark greens and reds, pretty much. It goes back to around the time of the Napoleonic wars when good heavy woolen coats for soldiers and sailors were needed. In the US, the mackinaw and also some lumberjack coats are made of Melton cloth.

Melton-Mowbray is the town in England where our ancestors, Melton cloth and Stilton cheese all come from. Stilton was the market town nearby and is on the road to London so the cheese got named for it instead of Melton. But the rules of what is Stilton cheese say it has to come from cows born, raised and milked within ten miles of a certain dairy barn outside Melton-Mowbray. Also has to be treated this and so and that and such and aged in one of the villages in the same area.

Stilton is a suburb of Peterborough, the big town in that area nowadays, between Nottingham and Cambridge. Melton-Mowbray is about 20 miles away.

John Milton’s ancestors (he of Paradise Lost fame) came from Melton-Mowbray so he’s probably a distant relative.

Melton-Mowbray is also famous for several kings, dukes and bishops having hunting cottages and dog kennels there. Fox and pheasant hunting, I think, it’s farmland all around. A bit squishy from the look of the map, you probably can’t walk a quarter mile without getting mud on your shoes. All the streets in the town look like they were laid out by following cows around.

Oh, and pork pies. Not the hats, the pies full of pork and veggies that the British eat, those are from Melton-Mowbray, too. So, cows, pigs, sheep, dogs, foxes and pheasants; a crowded place, it’s a wonder there are any people at all.

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