A NORTH East businesswoman whose family has links to the Dukes of Northumberland has come up with a tasty way of celebrating a special anniversary.
Heather Foggon, 49, who runs The Chirnells Farmhouse Kitchen, near Thropton in Northumberland, has come up with the Percy Special Christmas Pudding, to mark this year’s 700th anniversary of dukes and duchesses living at Alnwick Castle.
The Percy Special is the name of a drink dukes have been known to enjoy, and therefore named after their family.
Heather has adapted a recipe for Christmas pudding which has been in her family more than 100 years to include the blend of cherry brandy and whisky in equal quantities which make up the Percy Special.
Her family has long enjoyed close links with the Percys.
Heather’s late grandmother Ella Easton worked as a cook at the castle for the current duke’s father in the late 1970s and early 1980s while her late grandfather John Easton worked as a night watchman at the castle around the same time. Her father Jimmy Easton, 72, who lives at South Ditchburn, was close friends with the old duke while a farm manager at West Ditchburn. Jimmy used to go out hunting with the then duke and Heather remembers him coming to the house when she was a young girl.
With celebrations having taken place at the castle this year to mark seven centuries since it came into the ownership of the Percys, and given her family’s close association with past dukes, Heather felt it would be nice to mark the milestone.
She said: “I decided I would do something different to celebrate the anniversary.
“With the connections with my gran working there and my grandad working there and with my dad knowing the duke, I think it is nice to bring this pudding out to celebrate the 700 years.”
The pudding is made in traditional fashion, all by hand, and unsurprisingly given the ingredients, Heather says, has “a bit kick to it.”
Heather did not need permission from the castle to use the name as it is not patented.
But she has been assured the current duke was told of the proposal and gave his approval.
A castle spokeswoman said: “Given Mrs Foggon’s long association with Alnwick Castle and Northumberland Estates, we are delighted to hear that she has been able to use the Percy special as inspiration for her new recipe. We wish her every success, and look forward to trying the finished product in the near future.”
The pudding is being launched at a Christmas shopping fair at the Alnwick Garden tomorrow from 10am to 4pm, when people will be able to sample it.
The product will also be on sale alongside Heather’s four other varieties of Christmas pudding at Alnwick Farmers’ Market on Friday and at food festivals across the region in the run up to Christmas.
Heather runs her business and lives with husband Christopher, also 49, in a farmhouse on a seven-acre small holding of which they are tenants.
She appeared at The Journal’s Taste campaign event at the MetroCentre in Gateshead at the beginning of the month.