“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Brief History of Bread Prices

During a recent visit to the village of Great Wishford in Wiltshire I spotted a series of odd stones embedded in the churchyard wall. On closer inspection the stones appeared to be showing the price of bread since the era of the French Revolutionary Wars / Napoleonic Wars.

The bread prices listed on the stones start in 1800, and the stones read:

  • 1800 Bread 3s 4d per Gall
  • 1801 Bread 3s 10d per Gall
  • 1904 Bread 10d per Gall
  • 1920 Bread 2s 8d per Gallon After The Great War
  • 1946-48 Bread Rationed Subsidised Price 2s 1d per Gall
  • 1963 Bread 5s 4d per Gall
  • 1971 Bread 8s per Gall – Decimal Currency 40p
  • 1984 Bread £1.80 per Gall
  • 2000 Bread £3.72 per Gall

At first glance it seems a bit odd that bread was measured in gallons, but presumably this is the dry volume of the ingredients (i.e. the flour).

The history of the stones seems to be that during the French Revolutionary Wars / Napoleonic Wars the French tried to blockaded Britain by exerting control over continental ports and seizing goods bound for Britain. This virtual blockade of Britain prevented the easy import of wheat, and led to a large rise in the price of bread. In an attempt to try to ensure transparency in his pricing, it is said that the local baker put his prices in stone in the churchyard wall. This tradition of recording bread prices in stone has continued ever since.

The bread stones.
Great Wishford Church.

The bread stones in the churchyard wall (bottom right, near the sign).

 Pictures, Wiltshire (February 2014).

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