Here we are, a £1:75 pineapple, my tenuously linked story, that brings a royal flavour to this blog.
We spent the weekend camping at Heligan. Loads of history and stories. The fruity one that stuck was the not-so-humble story of the Pineapple.
Between 1770 and 1850 growing Pineapples became the horticultural aspiration of the upper classes. An imported pineapple at the time would cost the equivalent of £5000. If you were rich enough to own one you could hire it out until it was virtually inedible, people so craved them as a centrepiece of their fruit bowls and as a sign of their wealth. However if a guest attempted to touch the pineapple security guards, provided by the actual owner, would step out from the dark recesses provided by candlelight and the host would be embarrassed that they had been caught out as hirers, not owners, of the precious fruit.
Wealthy landowners like the Tremayne’s of Heligan built pineapple pits in their kitchen gardens to grow their pineapples. Absolute mountains of horse manure were required to heat each pineapple pit and Heligan had 15 of them. When the restoration of the kitchen garden was complete it took 7 years to perfect the art of growing pineapples in Cornwall using centuries-old techniques. If you take into account all the research, labour and failure that Heligan has endured growing Pineapples each one still has a price tag of about £1,000. They are never sold, each one that makes it to the eating stage is divided among all the staff, who get to eat it.
Except for the 2nd pineapple ever grown in modern times at Heligan. It was given to the Queen and Prince Phillip for their 50th Wedding anniversary in 1997. Which just about squeaks me into my 10 days of Royal topics for the 10 days of Official Mourning. I wonder how long it will be before people start trying to touch my £1:75 pineapple?
This blog also explains why pineapples are so often seen as a motif in architecture, bling in the form of fruit.