A 121-year-old chocolate bar, from a batch commissioned by Queen Victoria for British troops fighting in South Africa, has been found in its original tin in the attic of an English manor.
The chocolate belonged to an English aristocrat who fought in the Second Boer War, Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfield, and was found in his helmet case at his family’s ancestral home, 500-year-old Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, eastern England.
Queen Victoria commissioned three British producers- Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree- to produce more than 100,000 tins, each containing a half-pound of plain chocolate.
The National trust said that, as pacifist Quakers who opposed the war, all three manufacturers refused to accept payment for the order and originally donated the chocolate in unbranded tins.
However, the Queen insisted the troops should know they were getting British chocolate and the firms backed down. Marking some bars. The tins themselves were never branded.
It was intended every soldier and officer would receive a box with the inscription “South Africa 1900” and, in the Queen’s handwriting, “I wish you a happy New Year”.