Hunt for historic ox carving knives

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A HUNT has been launched for the historical carving knives which were used in an ancient Jubilee ox-roast.

For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, a committee is to recreate a celebration on Harrogate’s Stray.

The members, along with Weetons of Harrogate, will host an ox roast similar to one held for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in June 1887. All the committee needs to make the celebration complete is the original carving cutlery, which has been missing for more than a century.

“We want our Jubilee ox roasting to have all the pomp and ceremony of the original occasion,” said Weetons operations director Jo Loftus.

“Finding the specially commissioned knives and forks that were used at the Victorian event will ensure we can rise – and roast – to the occasion.”

Thirteen carving sets were commissioned for the Victorian Jubilee. While two are on display at the Royal Pump Room Museum and one is owned by local historian Malcolm Neesam, 10 sets are still missing.

The carving knives are made from steel and the handles are fashioned from carved bone, with Neesam’s set inscribed with the words: “Specially made to carve the Jubilee ox, roasted on Harrogate Stray, June 21st 1887”.

In honour of this summer’s Diamond Jubilee event, Weetons will be donating an ox from its own herd of Red Polls.

The Queen has already given permission for a fire pit to be dug in the Stray – land that remains in the ownership of the Duchy of Lancaster – and plans are afoot for Jeremy Ravenshaw Fowler, top barbecue chef and grill master to mastermind all the cooking.

And while inventor, philanthropist and former Harrogate mayor Samson Fox was master of ceremonies at the first roasting, in June his mantle will be taken on by a cabinet member of Harrogate Borough Council.

The main spectacular will take place on Sunday June 3, when the Mayor of Harrogate Borough lights the pit and a symbolic papier-mâché ox is set on fire.

Revellers will then be able to tuck into beef rolls from the real roasting, which Weeton’s will be selling directly on the Stray.

All proceeds from the event will be going to Saint Michael’s Hospice.

Tickets to the event, and for the food, will be on sale at Weeton’s and Harrogate Tourist Information Centre from early May. For more information call 01423 507100.