The Traditional Sunday Roast Enjoyed By So Many.

Millstone Hare for a traditional Sunday roast

The Millstone Hare serving a traditional Sunday roast

At The Millstone Hare we pride ourselves on our traditional Sunday Roasts, but have you ever wondered why we have them?

A staple in many households up and down the country every weekend, the humble and much-loved Sunday roast provides a chance to get the oven to do the work; to get the family around the dining table; and to get some back-to-basics goodness into your children.  However many families now visit us at The Millstone Hare to give the main cook in the household a well deserved break, and enjoy the country estate in which The Millstone Hare is located.  The Traditional Sunday Roast seemingly has been around forever, but when did this emblem of Britishness actually originate?

Why do we have a  traditional roast on a Sunday?

All the way back in 1485, during the reign of Henry VII, the King’s royal guards would habitually eat beef on a Sunday. This tendency, in fact, is the reason why the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London became known as ‘beefeaters’, while prompting the British population to become a mass of Sunday beef eaters too.

Beefeater related to the traditional Sunday Roast


On Fridays, for many Catholics and Anglicans, eating meat was forbidden (causing a rise in fish consumption instead – fish and chips Fridays, anyone?), which meant the appeal of eating meat on a Sunday was even more heightened. Fasting before Sunday service was also rather commonplace, so the idea of a large meal after attending church was, again, ever more appealing. And by roasting the meat, and accompaniments, families could put their meal on to roast before heading out to church, and would return home to a beautifully cooked joint, ready to feed the whole family.

The upper echelons of society would roast a gigantic piece of beef (weighing around fifteen pounds) over their enormous fireplaces, producing enough food to feed the extended family for days, with the creative use of leftovers in full swing throughout the week. The poorer, working class households – without such sizeable fireplaces – would drop off their beef at the local baker’s on the way to church, where it would be roasted in the bread ovens (which were not used for bread-making on Sundays), and collected on the way home.

What goes with a traditional Sunday roast?

Yorkshire Pudding

So there’s the history of the roast beef, but what about the accoutrements? First up is the legendary Yorkshire pudding, which has not always gone by this name. Traditionally cooked directly under the roasting joint, to collect all of the succulent juices dripping down from the meat, it was originally referred to as the ‘dripping pudding’. It was also not traditionally served beside the meat, as is customary today, but beforehand as a starter (with lots and lots of gravy). Due to its appetite-fulfilling qualities the ‘pudding’ was served before the meat in an attempt to reduce later consumption of the beef, which was substantially more expensive. In 1747 cookery writer Hannah Glasse renamed it the Yorkshire pudding, which it has been known as ever since.

Roast potatoes

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, a traditional sight on a Sunday

The traditional roast dinner on a Sunday

Roast potatoes are, obviously, the other obligatory side, but they were not adopted by the British as seamlessly as the beef (or the Yorkshire puds). Having been brought from South America to Europe in the sixteenth century, the root vegetable was initially very unpopular with the British population, and indeed did not become a staple on the English dinner plate (Sunday roast or otherwise) until the end of the eighteenth century, following a campaign by the Board of Agriculture aimed at the working class. The humble spuds soon became a family favourite, and in no time made their way to join the roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, seasonal vegetables and lashings of gravy on the dining tables, on a Sunday, of almost every British household.

The Millstone Hare Country Pub offers a traditional Sunday roast from as little as £12, keep an eye on our Facebook Page to see what the roast will be on the day, and whilst you are on the page check out our fantastic reviews!

Take a look at our Sunday Menu below-

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