A Christmas Story of Good Cheer and Mince Pies
A tin of mince pies made for Christmas during the 2nd World War has been found in pristine condition under floorboards in a hotel on the Isle of Man.
The mince pies were addressed to a sailor called Phil Davis, with a letter that reads: “Best, love from Mum”.
They were presented in a bright red biscuit tin by Squirrel Confections, a company that still makes retro gummy sweets to this day.
The tin of traditional British festive treats were first discovered in 1998, when the Loch Hotel in Douglas was being developed into apartments.
However, they were then lost in a storeroom and forgotten about for another two decades.
In the letter sent to Davis from his mother, she relays news from the sailor’s home in Birmingham.
She explains that his friends and family have been playing a card game “for money”, and also says: “We shall be glad to see you when you do get leave.”
Since their rediscovery, the mince pies have been put on display at the Manx Museum, the national museum of the Isle of Man.
Matthew Richardson, curator of social history for Manx National Heritage, believes that the tin of mince pies was purposely hidden underneath the hotel’s floorboards so that they wouldn’t be stolen by other guests staying in the same room.
“If you’re in a shared room with five or six other men you don’t know, the only way you could be sure of protecting what was yours was to find a place to hide it,” he says.
“This tin of mince pies illustrates the point that wars might be international events, but they impact at a very human level.
“Here was a young man, possibly away from home for the first time in his life, training to go to a war zone.
“We can only imagine what his mother was feeling as she posted this tin on to him.
“We can’t say for sure why Able Seaman Davis never ate his mince pies. Perhaps he was posted away at short notice and didn’t have time to retrieve them.”
The mince pies were preserved for more than seven decades due to the air-tight conditions underneath the floorboards.
However, while they may still be intact, they’re no longer edible.