The Tichborne Case

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A cartoon on the Tichborne Case, printed in November 1871, reproduced with permission of Punch

In the 19th century, the curious habit of weighing our customers proved its worth – providing essential evidence in establishing an Australian butcher’s true identity. Here, Will Lyons explains how

It was a case which captivated Victorian society for decades but is now largely forgotten. It involved an aristocrat – presumed drowned at sea, one of the greatest imposters of history and the ledgers of Berry Bros. & Rudd. The case of Sir Roger Tichborne not only divided educated society and stirred the imagination of London’s public, it proved that perhaps Mark Twain was right when he said “truth is stranger than fiction”.

It begins in 1854 when Roger Tichborne, heir to the Catholic Tichborne Baronetcy in Hampshire, boarded a ship – the Bella – bound for Jamaica. A week later the ship was found capsized off the Brazilian coast and it was assumed all the passengers were lost. There were rumours that some had been rescued and Roger’s mother, Lady Henriette Tichborne, refused to give up hope. In 1863 she took out a series of advertisements in The Times and some Australian newspapers, offering a reward for anyone with further information on Roger’s fate. Step forward Arthur Orton – a butcher from Wagga Wagga, some 300 miles south of Sydney – who claimed he was the missing Tichborne.

Despite the uncanny resemblance to the 11th Baronet, there was only one problem with his story – his weight. Arthur Orton was considerably larger than Roger, excessively so. Not that it deterred him in the beginning. The aspiring Tichborne sailed to England where he managed to convince many of Roger’s friends and acquaintances, including Lady Tichborne and the family solicitor, that he was in fact the missing heir. Others were not as convinced.

An agent in Australia had traced Orton’s background to a family living in Wapping in the east end of London. Apparently, the young Orton had jumped ship, first to Chile and then ending up in Australia. A trial ensued, and Orton’s fraudulence was revealed. He was eventually sentenced to 14 years in prison for perjury.

What is little known is that the Judge, Mr Chief Justice Bovill, knew of some very interesting evidence, unknown to both sides and which never came out at the trial. According to the account of Bostonian lawyer Richard Hale, recorded in a 1957 issue of Number Three Saint James’s Street, one afternoon Mr Chief Justice Bovill made his way across the park to No.3, where he met with Henry Berry, great-grandfather of the present chairman Simon Berry.

Since the 1760s, Berry Bros. & Rudd has been recording the weights of its most prominent customers on the famous weighing scales in the shop. So it was on that afternoon in 1871 that Henry Berry and Mr Chief Justice Bovill poured through the ledgers and found the weights of Tichborne’s father and grandfather. Needless to say, the two deceased Baronets, one weighing 9 stone 11bs in 1788 and the other 10 stone and 8lbs in 1822, were (at around the same age of the claimant) considerably lighter than Arthur Orton, described as “a man-mountain of enormous bulk, weighing over 24 stone”. The evidence was conclusive.

Arthur Orton was released after serving his 10 years in prison and – despite a brief career as a curiosity in music halls – he died penniless in 1898. In one final twist, the Tichborne family allowed a card bearing the name “Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne” to be placed on his coffin, and the coroner’s death certificate read “Sir Roger Tichborne”. Arthur Orton always maintained he was the real Roger Tichborne.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of No.3.

Category: Miscellaneous

Consider the trimmings

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Pictures taken from On the Side by Ed Smith (Bloomsbury, £20). Photography: Joe Woodhouse

As festive meal-planning gets underway, Ed Smith – author of On the Side and the man behind rocketandsquash.com – provides food for thought when it comes to deciding which bottles to uncork on 25th December

Are you agonising over what wines to uncork this Christmas? Perhaps you think that decision rests with the question of whether it’s turkey, rib of beef, or goose this year?

Here’s a controversial suggestion: you’ve got your priorities wrong. Of course you should be thinking about which wine to serve over the feasting period – but the “centrepiece” meats are, in fact, the least important part of your meal. They’re dull. Always the same. And they’ll probably be overcooked, so hardly something to hang the hooch on.

Really, it’s the trimmings that matter: the stuffing, roast spuds, greens and bread sauce that you’ll be going back to for seconds. These things – “the sides” – don’t just make up the majority of your plate, they’re also the bits that ensure the Christmas meal is greater than the sum of its parts (or any meal, for that matter). So surely it’s with the peripherals in mind that a wine should be chosen?

Yes, it’s a complex area: there’s lots going on around the fringe, and people always aim for far too many sides and sauces (six, seven or more is really three or four too many). But some of those can, and should be, simple supporting acts, leaving one or two star-sides to take the lead.

It doesn’t take much to make sprouts more interesting than the over-boiled, sulphurous orbs of our youth – roast them and season with celery salt and piles of black pepper, or blanch and then fry them with rosemary, bacon and chestnuts.

Perhaps you could make the carrots stand out this time, braising them in Riesling and dill, or tossing them in browned butter, lemon, hazelnuts and parsley at the last minute?

Maybe it’s the turn of the parsnip to be the hero – years ago, Delia pushed Parmesan onto them, my cookbook, On the Side (sorry, this is, in part, a sales pitch), humbly suggests you ought to toss them, once roasted, in a honey and Marmite glaze. It’s addictive, honest. But needs careful thought on the drinking front.

You could even consider something beyond the typical veg, like the recipe for baked radicchio with a buttery Pedro Ximénez sauce below. It’s a truly brilliant accompaniment to roast beef, and something that’ll make turkey fly, for once.

Making sure your sides are at least well selected, if not the starting point for your meal plan, is a matter that extends beyond the Christmas meal (great sides are for life, etc etc…). There’s no point, for example, perfecting the glazed ham, if you haven’t also made sure the boulangère potatoes and braised red cabbage with beetroot match up. Do you always have a venison stew over the festive period? Then you should consider a new way with celeriac, and/or juniper butter cabbage to go with it (in the book, of course).

It’s those kinds of details that will make Christmas eating a success. And it’s only once you know which direction those sides are taking things, that you can get down to the serious business of choosing what to drink alongside.

Pictures taken from On the Side by Ed Smith (Bloomsbury, £20). Photography: Joe Woodhouse

PX Radicchio TrevisanoServes 4-6

You can use any type of radicchio here, or even red chicory, though I think Trevisano works best (and also takes a little longer than the others to cook). Those glorious burgundy leaves wilt and turn brown. More appealingly, they also soften in texture, mellow in flavour and yield some of their own juices while soaking up the toffee, coffee and chocolate notes of Pedro Ximénez. It’s a particularly grand side next to game birds, pigeon and rich beef dishes, and I suspect you’ll enjoy it with white fish and wild mushrooms as well; a little bit naughty and a touch lavish but, like all things with these qualities, very desirable.

  • 1-2 heads (about 500g) radicchio Trevisano
  • 70ml Pedro Ximénez Sherry
  • 50g butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 ̊C/Fan 180 ̊C/Gas 6.

Separate the radicchio leaves by cutting off the base to loosen them. Wash them in cold water and drain briefly, leaving a little water clinging to the leaves. Put them in a small roasting tin, making sure they’re no more than 2 or 3 leaves deep.

Pour the Pedro Ximénez and 50ml water over the top, mixing to ensure all the leaves are coated. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and a grind or two of black pepper, then dot the butter on top of the leaves. Make a cartouche by wetting a piece of greaseproof paper a touch bigger than the roasting tin, scrunching it up, then unravelling it, placing it over the leaves and tucking it in around the edge.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, stirring the leaves and replacing the cartouche every 10 minutes, to make sure none of the leaves dry out.

The leaves will brown and soften and start giving off a coffee smell. When that’s happened, remove them from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Pour the cooking juices over the top and let the leaves absorb their bath for 5 minutes before serving. Make sure everyone takes both leaves and sauce when helping themselves.

Browse our seasonal collection of wines and spirits on bbr.com.

Ed Smith is the author of On the Side, a sourcebook of inspiring side dishes (Bloomsbury, £20) and the influential food blog www.rocketandsquash.com. He writes for a variety of publications and organisations, including Borough Market, the FT Weekend Magazine and the Guardian. @RocketandSquash

Category: Food & Wine,Port and Sherry

The changing face of Chile

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Viña Errazuriz, Aconcagua Valley, Chile. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Following a recent trip to the country, Fergus Stewart – from our Fine Wine team – traces Chile’s path to fine wine fame, identifying the key producers that make it worth any oenophile’s attentions

For a country with a proud and long history of winemaking, dating back to the Conquistadors’ arrival in the 16th century, it has taken until fairly recently for the wines of Chile to make a splash on the global fine wine scene.

Political instability over the 20th century hampered the growth of the wine industry, with the end of the military dictatorship in 1990 opening the door to export markets and foreign investment. Historically viewed as a great source of cheaper, more everyday wines, the past 20 years has seen an incredible rise in quality across the spectrum.

Boasting a climate that sits somewhere between Bordeaux and California, Chile is a viticultural Garden of Eden. Bordered by the Pacific, Andes, Atacama Desert and Antarctica, the disease-free vineyards (Chile has never suffered from phylloxera) are tailor-made for a range of wines, with a particular emphasis on Bordeaux varietals and the resurrected Carménère, now Chile’s signature grape, but whose plantings were long assumed to be Merlot.

Seeing the great potential that Chile offered, it wasn’t long before foreign investment, mainly in the form of joint ventures, started appearing, with Seña (originally a Mondavi and Chadwick collaboration), Almaviva (Concha y Toro and Barons de Rothschild) and Lapostolle (the Grand Marnier family).

The wines these estates produce, mostly Bordeaux-inspired, are at the forefront of quality and can now easily be compared to the top wines of Bordeaux, Tuscany and Napa. Wishing to prove this point, Eduardo Chadwick (of Errazuriz, Seña and Viñedo Chadwick) organised a tasting of his wines, blind versus a selection of First Growths and Super Tuscans in Berlin in 2004. The result, to the surprise of all the tasters, was in Chile’s favour: the country’s wines took three of the top five spots, including first and second place. This Chilean version of the famous “Judgement of Paris” has since been replicated around the world, with similar results from a wide range of tasting panels, vindicating Eduardo’s belief that his wines deserved to be viewed amongst the best in the world. A view we certainly share – the 2015 Viña Seña, for example, is a world-class wine.

But is isn’t just Cabernet blends that are now recognised for their quality. Syrah from Elqui (in the North near the Atacama) is a dead ringer for those of the Northern Rhône and the cooler climate valleys of Bío Bío and Itata are producing superb aromatic Rieslings and Chardonnays – Pandolfi Price (from the latter) is definitely worth a look for their Chablis-esque Larkün and Chassagne doppelganger Los Patricios.

One of the most exciting developments has been the rise of Pinot Noir from cooler areas, such as Aconcagua Costa, with Errazuriz’s Los Pizarras project (whose Chardonnay is also well worth a look) vying for top spot with the Aristos wines from celebrated Burgundian, Comte Michel Liger-Belair. Already excellent, these will be fascinating to watch over the following decade as the young vineyards come to maturity and will certainly rival other New World Pinot hotspots such as Central Otago and Oregon.

The huge level of financial investment, influx of international talent and attention to detail is transforming Chile’s production and reputation. From our deliciously quaffable Chilean Merlot through to the top tier of wines such as Almaviva and Viñedo Chadwick, I urge you to give Chile a try. I’ve always believed great wines are made in beautiful places and Chile is no exception.

Browse our Chilean range on bbr.com.

Category: New World

On the table: Hoppers, St Christopher’s Place

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London’s second Hoppers is the latest in a series of restaurants challenging British perceptions of South Asian cuisine. We sent Alexis Self to Marylebone to sample its rich karis and famous flatbreads

Though a mere falafel’s throw from Dean Street, Marylebone is a world away in dining terms. Not here for the queues and sharing plates – its cobbled streets are lined with establishments with names like The Orrery and Chiltern Firehouse. It’s into this starched and folded environment that Hoppers’ second outpost has landed with a bang.

The original Hoppers, on Frith Street, has arguably done more for Sri Lankan cuisine in the capital in the two years since it first opened than has been done in, well, ever. Its success reflects the rise of southern Indian cuisine more generally, and particularly its ubiquitous dosas. Popular throughout South Asia, the humble dosa is a sort of light, savoury crêpe made using rice and black gram (a kind of lentil) – but, perhaps more importantly, it’s gluten free. Hoppers, from which these restaurants take their name, are even lighter, and even more gluten free… well, sort of. Made with rice batter and coconut milk they are crispier than dosas and cooked in a way that makes them curl upward, forming a delicious edible bowl – but more on this later.

Hoppers is the latest smash hit from JKS Restaurants – the incredibly astute group of sibling restaurateurs behind Gymkana, Trishna and Bubbledogs. Their new restaurant is more grown up than its older namesake – whose riotous colours and tiled floor have been replaced with varnished wood, leather banquettes and demure grey polo shirts. The décor has taken inspiration from the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa and his Tropical Modernist movement – think straight lines and bamboo panelling. The effect is immediately more relaxed, especially given the room’s excellent acoustics which allow conversation to flow without throat damage. Most importantly, you can book a table.

As we sit down a bowl of spicy, dusty banana chips is placed in front of us. We chew on these while we order a few “short eats”. Bonemarrow varuval consists of chewy, unctuous meat clinging to two hefty sawn-off cow shins – after an attempt at knife-and-fork gentility, we pick these up and gnaw on them like cavemen. It comes in an ambrosial puddle of sauce which we mop up greedily with a roti – the first subcontinental flatbread of the evening. Completing the “shorts” category are mutton rolls – spicy meaty croquettes bursting with minced sheep – and devilled chipirones, squid battered in a mixture of Sri Lankan spices and topped with roughly-chopped green chillies. These are served with “SL hot sauce”, a sort of hot pepper sauce/sriracha love-child.

Hot food, curry especially, is often seen as the great wine destroyer – rendering even the lightest of styles utterly tasteless – but when it works, it works. Tipped-off by a colleague, we go for the 2014 Tempranillo from Torre de Barreda. A lighter-style Tempranillo from Toledo, its subtle liquorice notes offer the perfect accompaniment to the punchy flavours of the food, working as both palate cleanser and conductor – at £33 a bottle, it’s also tremendous value.

Next up is curry – or kari, as it’s known in Tamil. We order two copper dishes, one containing prawn and the other lamb, both cooked in a coconut-rich sauce. Their spice is tempered by bowls of cooling yoghurt, beetroot and kale sambol and the eponymous hoppers. Of these, we order one plain and one with an egg fried in the middle. They are sublime: subtly sweet and light as air.

Of all the new wave of restaurants serving up “posher” South Asian food, Hoppers is definitely going its own way. Its food is light and healthy, but without compromising the intense flavours that are a source of such beguilement to Western palates.

What we drank: 2014 Torre de Barreda, Tempranillo, Bodegas Juan de la Barreda

Hoppers St Christopher’s Place, 77 Wigmore Street, London W1U 1QE

Category: Food & Wine