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.”

Royal Hospital Chelsea Newsletter

Stay up to date with what's going on at The Royal Hospital by signing up for our e‑newsletter.

News

View the archive

Pat Mcgurk
The Chelsea Pensioner who drove everyone from the SAS to popstars and a princess

Pat McGurk joined the Army at 17 and never looked back. As a driver in the Royal Corps of Transport, he worked with close protection and the SAS, before driving dignitaries, VIPs and royalty. 

Dewi Treharne
Meet Chelsea Pensioner Dewi Treharne

Chelsea Pensioner Dewi Treharne served for 27 years in the British Army. During that time, he was posted all over the world and grew particularly attached to Germany, where he spent 15 years of his military career. 

Twitter

Follow @RHChelsea