Old Scarlett’s Ale

08:50 Friday 21st January 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Now what pray ye know about the legend of Old Scarlett? Well if you’re in the know, you might well be in a minority, because it’s feared not enough people know about one of Peterborough’s most famous sons. So leading figures in Peterborough have joined forces with a local brewery to create a beer in Old Scarlett’s honour. Let’s find out more about the beer, and of course Old Scarlett, by speaking to the Morecambe and Wise of Peterborough, Stuart Orme and the Reverend Charles Taylor, Dean of Peterborough. (MUSIC-BRING ME SUNSHINE)
BOTH: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: And it’s good morning from him. (GENERAL LAUGHTER) So first of all, Stuart Orme, whoi was Old Scarlett? Remind us.
STUART ORME: Old Scarlett was a remarkable character who lived back in the 16th century. He was ..
CHARLES TAYLOR: That was Scarlett O’Hara wasn’t it?
STUART ORME: No no. That was Gone With the Wind, that one.
PAUL STAINTON: I think this is where I go out of the studio.
STUART ORME: Yes I was going to say, just leave us to it. (LAUGHTER) But he was the parish sexton for St John’s Church, and they basically committed burials in the Cathedral graveyard, which of course was the main graveyard for Peterborough at that time. He was born in 1496, and lived to the ripe old age of 98.
CHARLES TAYLOR: So you just knew him really?
STUART ORME: (LAUGHTER) Just about. Yes. A few grey hairs here.
PAUL STAINTON: You sat next to him at school, and next to him on the other side was Andy Harper.
STUART ORME: That’s right. I remember Andy well in those days. But yes, he was a remarkable character. Obviously he was extremely remarkable because he was so long-lived, living into his nineties was exceptional in those days, in an age where most people died probably in their 40s or 50s. He was also remarkable in the fact that he is said to have buried, well we know that he buried two Queens, Katherine of Arargon and Mary Queen of Scots, who of course was later raised inside the Cathedral, and Katherine of course who is still buried there today, and whom of course we are commemorating next week with the Katherine of Aragon Festival.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. I’ve seen the posters. You’ve got a load of people in fancy dresses coming, haven’t you Charles?
CHARLES TAYLOR: There’s all sorts of things going on at the Katherine of Aragon weekend. There’s a big schools event in the morning, a commemorative service, and then on the Friday evening Stuart is doing a talk on Old Scarlett who’s buried there, and dug those graves. The thought of him digging with those wooden spades down through that rocky earth through the Saxon foundations and all the rest, it must have been quite an effort. That’s probably why he lived ’till 98, he was fit. But anyway, that’s on the Friday evening at 7:30. Tickets for that can be got from the Destination Centre or the Cathedral or at the door. And then on the Saturday we’ve got a day of living history Stuart.
STUART ORME: We have indeed, yes, lots of Tudor re-enactors. We’ve got costume characters actually as Katherine and Henry, so you can actually come and meet Their Royal Highnesses, and they’ll be doing Royal Audiences, although just beware in case Henry is having a bad day, because you might find yourself headless. We;ve got things like Tudor cookery, dancing demonstrations, archery demonstrations, all sorts of things like that, so bringing into life the Tudor period, the life and times of Katherine of Aragon and of course of Robert Scarlett.
CHARLES TAYLOR: And then in the evening we’ve got that international ensemble, The Sixteen, ..
PAUL STAINTON: The fancy dresses.
CHARLES TAYLOR: Well they’re not in fancy dresses, they will be in penguin suits I think, but they’re absolutely fabulous, international reputation, and they’ll be singing music that Katherine of Aragon may have heard in her day.
PAUL STAINTON: Good stuff. And why have we chosen beer? I want to get back to the beer. Because I wonder why to commemorate Old Scarlett Charles, the Church has condoned the use of beer.
CHARLES TAYLOR: Well beer is not unusual in the history particularly of the monastery at Peterborough. Because probably the water around there was unfit to drink. And every monastery had its brew house. In fact we recently had a GIS archeological survey done that’s pinpointed the spot where the brewery was, which is not far from my house actually. I’m working on its restoration.
PAUL STAINTON: Well look down see if there’s any old caskets knocking about.
CHARLES TAYLOR: And beers and wines were regarded as a great gift from God in Creation actually. Used responsbily , a sign of his bounty and his goodness.
PAUL STAINTON: What flavours have you got then in the beer?
CHARLES TAYLOR: I think it’s just one ale. It’s Castor Ales, and I say that carefully, we don’t want castor oil do we?
STUART ORME: That could be a whole different experience.
CHARLES TAYLOR: That could be a whole different experience. Scarlett O’Hara comes to mind again. But they approached us for a commemorative ale, and just said they were doing this anyway, to link with this weekend something to do with Katherine of Arargon. Celebration ales for one thing or another are not unknown, either in the Cathedral world or in the wider world.
STUART ORME: It’s also worth pointing out of course that not only in the times past the Church brewed its own beer, but it also actually owned most of the local pubs in Peterborough. Back to the days of Peterborough Abbey and of course a lot of people might remember down at the end of Priestgate here, there used to be the Angel Hotel, on the site of what is now W.H.Smith. And of course the Angel was so called because it was one of the pubs owned by the Abbey.
PAUL STAINTON: And the beer is launched today I believe, isn’t it.
STUART ORME: This afternoon at half past one?
OTHERS: Two o’clock.
CHARLES TAYLOR: I’m sure we can get there early. (LAUGHTER) At the Crown INn in Lincoln Road.
STUART ORME: Yes indeed. Yes.
PAUL STAINTON: And have you had a sample of it yet?
BOTH: No we haven’t. No.
CHARLES TAYLOR: That’s why we’re still compos mentis at this time of the morning.
STUART ORME: Itr’s just lack of coffee. It’s not beer, it’s lack of coffee.
PAUL STAINTON: Guys, thank you. Charles Taylor Dean of Peterborough, Stuart Orme from Peterborough Museum. The Katherine of Aragorn Festival all next weekend of course. And Old Scarlett the beer.