Chelsea Pensioners and Dairy UK take part in the annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses

5th December 2018

Each year the Chelsea Pensioners mark the festive season with the Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses. The tradition dates back to the opening of the Royal Hospital in 1692 when a local cheesemonger agreed to provide Chelsea Pensioners with their festive supply of cheese.

The Ceremony in its current form first took place in 1959 when Dairy UK fittingly assumed responsibility for the provision of the cheeses. Today they donated an incredible 270kg of the finest cheeses around the UK to the Chelsea Pensioners. The cheese is distributed to all of the Chelsea Pensioners at meal times during the run up to Christmas.

As part of the event each year, a ceremonial cheese is cut with a sword by a chosen Chelsea Pensioner. This year’s ceremonial cheese is a handsome 24kg Montgomery cheddar, cut by Chelsea Pensioner Alan Goddard.

“I feel very pleased to have been chosen to cut the cheese at this year’s ceremony,” Alan Goddard commented, “and to be part of a Royal Hospital tradition that dates back to its opening in 1692. Thanks to the generosity of Dairy UK in continuing this tradition, my fellow Chelsea Pensioners and I can enjoy these delicious cheeses over the festive period!”

In his address to Chelsea Pensioners, Royal Hospital staff and Dairy UK attendees, Dairy UK’s Chair, Paul Vernon, paid tribute to those who have given their lives in conflict since WW1 in a nod to the centenary of the First World War Armistice this year. He also highlighted the historic role cheddar rations played in providing important nutrients to soldiers.

He said: “There’s no better time than the annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses to honour our brave veterans as well as celebrate the great taste and nutrition of cheese, along with our excellent cheesemakers. It’s the perfect start to the Christmas season.”

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Chelsea Pensioner pictured Dairy UK Chair Paul Vernon, the Governor of the Royal Hospital and the ceremonial cheese
Chelsea Pensioners and Dairy UK take part in the annual Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses

A festive tradition dating back to the opening of the Royal Hospital in 1692 – today Dairy UK donated over 270kg of British cheeses to the Chelsea Pensioners to tide them over the festive period.

Christmas Pudding
Festivities begin with the stirring of the Christmas Pudding

The Christmas period officially got underway today at the Royal Hospital, as the Chelsea Pensioners took part in the tradition of stirring in the ingredients for the Christmas pudding.

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