Tag Archives: Alton


I was very pleased to be invited to give a talk organised by the Curtis Museum in Alton, Hampshire, UK, not far from where I grew up in Eastleigh, Hants.

In my book I introduce the Hampshire towns of Alresford (watercress), Selborne (Gilbert White and sea kale) and Alton as the “Hampshire perennial vegetable triangle” or the UK hotspot of perennial vegetable domestication. Alton is included as the home of botanist William Curtis, who was Praefectus Horti at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London in the 1770s. He was also a friend of Gilbert White! He wrote a pamphlet, ‘Directions for the culture of the Crambe maritima or Sea Kale, for the use of the Table’ in 1799 to bolster efforts in introducing it as a market vegetable.
See the album of pictures from a wander around Alton with Sheila John of the Curtis museum, edimentals tour of the Allen Gallery garden and later talk there! See the album below!
Other related posts:

Directions for the culture of Sea Kale (1799) http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=9772

The Hampshire Perennial Vegetable Triangle http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=3879

Lecture at the Hillier Gardens  http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1281

Hampshire’s Watercress Line  http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=335

Directions for the culture of sea kale from 1799!

In my book, I wrote the following in my account about Sea Kale (Crambe maritima):
“Domestication of sea kale (in the UK) seems largely to have been due to the efforts of the botanist William Curtis, who was Praefectus Horti at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London in the 1770s. It is still grown there (see photo 7). He wrote a pamphlet, ‘Directions for the culture of the Crambe maritima or Sea Kale, for the use of the Table’ in 1799 to bolster his efforts in introducing it as a market vegetable”

I’ve now finally managed to get a copy of it thanks to a coincidental meeting with Sheila John of the Curtis museum in Alton, Hampshire who attended a talk I gave at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in May 2015 (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1281). We kept in touch and I will actually be giving a talk at the Curtis Museum on 27th April!  The museum kindly purchased a copy of the pamphlet on Sea Kale from the Natural History Museum in London and sent me the pdf copy which you can download below!

A great little historical docment, here are a few quotes which I found interesting:

“Brassica dobrica: kale found at Dover (Dover Cole)”

 “…….in some grounds a troublesome weed” !

 “Authors describe a variety with jagged leaves, such we have not seen….”

 “As an article of food, Crambe maritima appears to be better known here than in any other part of Europe.

”..on many parts of the sea-coast, especially of Devonshire, Dorsetshire and Sussex, the inhabitants for time immemorial, have been in the practice of procuring it for their tables, preferring it to all other greens”

“The more curious, desirous of having it  near at hand…..have now in many of the maritime counties introduced it to their gardens, and in Devonshire particularly, almost every gentleman has a plantation of it….we have been informed it has for many years been cultivated for sale in the neighbourhood of Bath”

“My friend Mr. Wm.Jones of Chelsea tells me he saw bundles of it in a cultivated state exposed for sale in Chichester market, in the year 1753”


Download (PDF, 4.89MB)