A 121 year-old chocolate bar, part of a batch commissioned by Queen Victoria, has been found in the attic of 15th century Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk. The chocolate bar, still in its original wrapper and tin, was found in a Second Boer War helmet case and is said to have belonged to 8th Baronet, Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfield.
The “remarkable find” was discovered after National Trust conservators were cataloguing the belongings of Sir Henry’s daughter, Frances Greathead, who died aged 100 in 2020.
National Trust cultural heritage curator, Anna Forrest, said, “Although it no longer looks appetising and is well past its use-by date – you wouldn’t want it as your Easter treat – it is still complete and a remarkable find. We can only assume that the 8th Baronet kept the chocolate with the helmet as a memento of his time in the Boer War.”
The Second Boer War began on 11th October 1899 and ended on 31st May 1902. It was fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states – the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.
More than 100,000 tins were produced and contained half a pound of plain chocolate. Queen Victoria commissioned Cadbury’s, Fry and Rowntrees – the country’s three principal chocolate makers – to undertake the order.
It was intended that every soldier would receive a tin with the inscription “South Africa 1900″ and “I wish you a Happy New Year” in the Queen’s handwriting. As a gift from the Queen, many soldiers kept their tins with some even posting them back home for safe keeping.
Queen Victoria died on 22nd January 1901 before the Second Boer War came to an end.