Worcestershire Sauce has its roots in India but its unique flavour was actually created by accident in Worcester, England in 1835.

Picture Credit: “Frazer Nash’s A to Zed Of Englandish For The Benefit Of Johnny Foreigner (Especially Seppos): W” by Steve Sparshott is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Lea & Perrins company says that a Lord Sandys had returned home to England to retire after successfully governing Bengal, India for many years. Missing his favourite Indian sauce, he commissioned local chemist John Lea and William Perrins to come up with a reasonable copy. There’s another version of the story which had the two chemists concocting a new condiment which, after 18 months, they found had matured into a delicious sauce. So delicious in fact that they decided to put it on sale.

The 1835 date is in some dispute as elsewhere it is suggested that the sauce was first launched in 1837 (that may be true as it was left to ferment in a cellar). The identity of Lord Sandys, said to be a nobleman of the Worcester area, is disputed by some.  The nobleman in question was Arthur Moyses William Sandys, 2nd Baron Sandys (1792-1860) of Ombersley Court, Worcestershire, Lieutenant-General and politician, a member of the House of Commons.

What is not disputed is that Worcestershire Sauce has been successful, however it arrived to our shores. Sauces were particularly popular during the 19th century as they gave flavour to otherwise plain food and also helped tenderise tough cuts of meat. The guarded recipe for Worcester Sauce basically remains the same today as its original. However, the advertising no longer purports to “make your hair grow beautiful.” Since 1876, the term Worcestershire Sauce can be used as a generic term for similar sauces. Today, the Lea & Perrins company is owned by Heinz.

Martin Pollins
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