At The Inn, Food & Drink

A history of the humble sandwhich

Despite our digital world and all our advances in technology, some traditions from centuries past remain the same – many of them in dishes that we continue to eat. The humble sandwich is an example of a convenient, portable meal that has failed to decline in popularity over the ages – if anything because of its practicality.

Before it was officially called a ‘sandwich’, this common lunch staple that around 32% of us still eat every single day used to be simply referred to as ‘meat on bread’. Nowadays, the cheese sandwich is still the most popular type of filling in Britain (according to a survey conducted by The Daily Telegraph). Ham and chicken fillings come in at a close second and third respectively. The amount of possible filling combinations you can have in a sandwich nowadays is seemingly endless, with warm sandwiches, toasted sandwiches and a choice of sweet or savoury.   

The first recorded person to have ever eaten food resembling a sandwich was Hillel the Elder, a Jewish rabbi of the 1st century BC. He is believed to have positioned a mixture of spices, apples, and nuts soaked in wine between two dumplings, eaten with herbs. This meal became popular during Passover and well known as the ‘Hillel sandwich’ that is still eaten to this day.      

The next record referring to sandwich-like food is from the Middle Ages. During this time, cutlery and plates were not used. Instead, people ate their meals from blocks of bread known as trenchers. Meat, usually in a sauce of some kind, was placed on these blocks of bread and eaten with the hands. The bread would be useful for soaking up any juice and sauces, and was usually eaten after the filling had been consumed. If it wasn’t eaten, it was usually given to the poor.

In the 18th century, the sandwich finally got its name thanks to John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. A keen gambler, he wanted to be able to bet continuously without taking a break to eat lunch. Inspired by his trips to the Mediterranean where he ate pitta breads stuffed with meat and fruit, he instructed a member of his waiting staff to make a pitta-bread style of meal for him so that he could eat with one hand, leaving his other hand free to gamble with. His staff returned with the sandwich we know today. Although it was actually his staff who created the sandwich, Montagu is credited with making the lunchtime staple so popular (and coming up with a name for it).   

In her 1850 cookery book entitled Directions for Cookery, Elizabeth Leslie introduced the concept of the ham and mustard sandwich – a popular filling combination that is still eaten today. She refers to the following in her instructions: “Cut some thin slices of bread very neatly, having slightly buttered them; and, if you choose, spread on a very little mustard. Have ready some very thin slices of cold boiled ham, and lay one between two slices of bread.”

Our sandwich menu

Our sandwiches are served on our freshly baked pullman loaf available on either white or wholegrain bread, served with a handful of triple cooked chips. Other sides include our House salad with heritage tomatoes and lemon, or onion rings. Choose from the following delicious fillings that even the Fourth Earl of Sandwich would be proud of!

–  Classic Prawn Marie Rose | Plum tomato, gem lettuce

The Huxley ‘Club Sandwich’ | Chicken breast, smoked bacon, egg mayonnaise, gem lettuce, plum tomato

Mature Cheddar | Mustard, plum tomato, gem lettuce

Roast Ham | Chicken breast, smoked bacon, egg mayonnaise, gem lettuce, plum tomato

Hot Roast Hereford Sirloin | Horseradish, watercress

Free Range Egg Mayonnaise | Watercress, plum tomato

Beer Battered Haddock | Tartare sauce, gem lettuce

See our Sandwiches & Nibbles Menu

The Inn at Huxley
Huxley Lane, Huxley, CH3 9BG