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Page history last edited by Matthew Spilsbury 8 years, 3 months ago


For centuries oranges have captured the imagination, sensuously refreshed our palates and beguiled with invigorating fragrance and fiery golden hues. When oranges first reached Europe they were exotic delicacies that only the upper classes could afford. In fact, aristocrats frequently gave oranges out as gifts. As time went on they became more accessible, and by the eighteenth century were the common snack in theatres, used in a variety of culinary dishes and drinks and were the symbol of a royal household.


There were two main varieties of oranges available in Britain during the eighteenth century. These are the bitter, Seville orange – citrus aurantium – and the sweet, China orange – citrus sinensis. Seville oranges were used to make marmalades, jams and wine and in the production of orange flower water. China oranges were sold in the theatres and were used in a variety of recipes.


Around the World in Several Hundred Years


In order to understand the significance of oranges in the eighteenth century, it is important to appreciate where they came from, how they reached Europe and why they did. It has been suggested that the citrus family's proto-parents originated in the New-Guinea-Melanesia region before the continental masses of Asia and Oceania dispersed:

But its evolution into many different species took place chiefly on the mainland of southeastern Asia. In fact, it is only there that most highly developed species of Citrus can be considered as indigenous.

(Swingle and Reece)



More recently, David Mabberly and Andrew Beattie have suggested that "the earliest species of citrus could have been dispersed from north-eastern Australia as 'floating fruit' on westward-flowing equatorial currents" ("Scientists claim citrus originated in Australia"), thus supporting Swingle's idea.


The mountainous regions of northeast India and southern China were where most commercial species of oranges and cultivars originated. Joseph Needham notes that

there can be no manner of doubt that the original home and habitat of these trees is on the eastern and southern slopes of the Himalayan massif; a fact which is reflected in the presence of the maximum number of old-established varieties in the Chinese culture-area, as also in extreme antiquity of the Chinese literary references.



The earliest mention of oranges in print is the Yu Kung chapter in the Shu Ching (Book of Historical Documents); Needham believes this dates back to the eighth or ninth century BC. Furthermore, Han Yen-Chih's 1178 Chu Lu (The Orange Record) is the oldest known monograph on oranges; it describes 28 varieties of sour, sweet and mandarin oranges, including one which "tastes sweet like milk" (Needham 363-77).


Although the first oranges were often thick-skinned and seedy, the Chinese soon became expert growers; their horticultural skills were sharpened by both favourable natural conditions and cultural isolation. Large-scale commercial orchards were planted in China as a result of increased demand and better communication between provinces. According to Needham, "it is safe to conclude that citrus fruits were being grown industrially for market ... for at least half a century before people in Europe encountered the first of the group to become known to them" (365).


The Crusades created an interest in northern Europe for exotic produce, which the returning soldiers brought back in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. According to Barbara Santich, citrus had become common in Italy by the thirteenth century (27). Moreover, by the end of the sixteenth century Swiss visitors in Montpellier were surprised by the cheapness of oranges sold there, as well as being shocked at the number of citrus trees in the streets of Barcelona and Perpignan (Santich 28).


The East India Company made China oranges available in England during the reign of James I, a move which the country has never looked back at. Before Jacobean England the country only knew Seville oranges, or at least the vast majority of the English did. These oranges, whilst great for marmalades and preserves, are too bitter to be eaten as a snack. The China orange revolutionised the way in which oranges were eaten: they could be eaten straightaway after peeling – which allowed them to be consumed in theatres – and they could be used in cookery for a whole range of recipes which would taste horrible if the bitter Seville orange was used.


By the eighteenth century oranges were a staple of English cookery, and could be found in a range of houses across classes. Oranges pepper cookery books from the period, highlighting their popularity and the range of recipes that called for them; from chicken to pastry, oranges are ingredients demanded by eighteenth-century diners. Moreover, oranges are used in a range of drinks, from orange juice to orangeade to orange wine. The influence of oranges is far-reaching, and one which, in many ways, cannot be overstated.     




Eighteenth-century cookbooks are peppered with recipes calling for oranges. Whether it is for its juice, its rind, as a garnish, or simply as a fruit, there is no shortage in the need for oranges. Perhaps the most famous cookbook of the eighteenth century is Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery (1747), especially if we judge by the number of printed editions. Within a year of its initial publication the cookbook was reprinted, and went through a total of 20 publications in the eighteenth century. The popularity of, and possible income from, the book can also be seen in the fact that Glasse was forced to sell the copyright of it when she become bankrupt in 1754. The Public Advertiser from August 1 1754 advertises the sale of the copyright of The Art of Cookery.  


A total of 61 recipes in The Art of Cookery call for either oranges or orange flower water. The vast majority of these are for desserts, but there are still recipes for a variety of meats, such as pigeon and lamb. This range of recipes highlights the various uses of oranges in the eighteenth century; the fruit is by no means a mere snack, it is a versatile ingredient.


Orange flower water, also referred to as orange blossom water, has a strong citrus scent and a rich orange flavour. During the eighteenth century, and beyond, it was frequently used in English cookery, just as it had been used for centuries in other parts of the world. It is fair to say that during the eighteenth century orange flower water was as popular a flavouring as vanilla is today. Orange flower water was also used medicinally and cosmetically, so it could be found in a variety of settings other than the kitchen, such as dressing rooms and on the shelves of certain apothecaries.


Orange flower water is a by-product in the manufacturing of neroli, an essential oil. Every year, between April and early May, the fully opened flowers of the Seville orange are collected to make orange flower water. In order to produce a quart of orange flower water, around two pounds of fresh Seville orange blossoms are needed. There are grades of orange flower water, which are based on the percentage of fresh flowers to water in the distillation process. The most commonly produced grade is double orange flower, which is the result of the distillation of one part of orange flowers and four parts of water. Single orange flower water is made by the mixing of one part of double orange flower water with an equal amount of distilled water. Triple orange flower water is made with one part orange flowers to three parts water, and quadruple orange flower water is made with one part orange flowers and two parts water. The higher the grade of orange flower water the higher the price.   


Recipes which call for orange flower water vary dramatically. Lamb and poultry dishes frequently call for orange flower water, and it is used in dressings for vegetables and salads. Numerous cakes and pastries also call for it, such as the French delicacy madeleines. Certain recipes call for orange flower water to be enhanced by sugar, mainly for dishes intended for desserts. Macaroons, biscuits, jams, custard puddings and jellies were all commonly flavoured with orange flower water in the eighteenth century.


Before and during the eighteenth century, citrus juices were among numerous items used in diets in an attempt to find a cure for scurvy. Only in the twentieth century was it discovered that scurvy was resulted from a dietary deficiency of vitamin C. The disease particularly affected sailors, who were frequently on extended voyages of discovery which had few to no opportunities for revictualing with fresh fruit. Various methods were tried to combat scurvy, but until the exact cause was known the effects of these remedies varied. James Lind's A treatise on the scurvy (1753) suggests giving sailors orange or lemon juice, which "proves highly grateful" (225) in patients suffering from the disease. 




Orange juice became a beverage in England during the seventeenth century. Ever one to spot trends, Samuel Pepys records his first encounter with the drink: "Here, which I never did before, I drank a glass, of a pint, I believe, at one draught, the juice of oranges ... here they drink the juice as wine, with sugar, and it is a very fine drink; but, it being new, I was doubtful whether it might not do me hurt" (9 March 1689/69). Although orange juice seems to have increased in popularity as the eighteenth century went on, it is not until the twentieth century that the drink becomes vastly popular.


In Glasse's The Art of Cookery there is a recipe for orange wine, and one for orange wine with raisins. Perhaps an unusual concept for modern wine drinkers, but judging by the number of recipes for orange wine in cookbooks from the eighteenth century, it was a fairly common drink of the period. Glasse's recipe is testament to the availability of oranges in the period as it calls for the "Rind of fifty Oranges" (291). Considering the cookbook is for domestic use, it is clear that oranges could be bought in bulk by citizens across classes, and not just the upper class who were the only people to enjoy the fruit several centuries previously.


                                                                         Recipe from Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery 
[image 1]


Another popular alcoholic drink in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries featuring oranges is shrub. Shrub is made by mixing orange, or lemon, juice with sugar and rum. The popularity and growth of shrubs in England was largely a result of the rise in smuggling. Smuggling "developed in England during the 1680s when there were high taxes on luxury imported goods such as tea, brandy, rum and genever" (Oakley). Smuggling continued to grow throughout the eighteenth century, particularly in Cornwall and Devon due to their geography. Barrels containing 'duty-free' spirits were frequently 'stored' by sinking them near the shore when the excise men were patrolling. The sunken barrels were then recovered when the coast was clear. Barrels were also transported by converting them into rafts and floating them with the current. However, this frequently lead to the spirits being contaminated with sea water. But this was not a good enough reason to not drink the alcohol. Perhaps this is where shrubs came in. As an accompaniment for the smuggled spirits, the sugar and orange juice could have masked the briny, salted flavour of the spoiled spirits.  


Elizabeth Moxon's English Housewifery provides an eighteenth century recipe for an orange shrub:

Take Seville Oranges when they are full ripe, to three Dozen of Oranges put half a Dozen of large Lemons, pare them very thin, the thinner the better, squeeze the Lemons and Oranges together, strain the Juice thro' a hair Sieve, to a Quart of the Juice put a Pound and a Quarter of Loaf Sugar; about three Dozen of Oranges (if they be good) will make a Quart of Juice, to very Quart of Juice put a Gallon of Brandy, put it into a little Barrel with an open Bung with all the Chippins of your Oranges, and bung it up close; when it is fine bottle it.  



In addition to orange flower water being used as a flavouring in cookery, it was also used in drink. During the eighteenth century a new refreshing beverage became a staple in social events: orgeat. In the eighteenth century orgeat was made with almond paste, sugar, milk, plain water and orange flower water. By the latter decades of the century, the almond paste, sugar, milk and orange flower water were made into an orgeat syrup, which was bottled and sold by grocers and occasionally wine shops. Thus, orgeat was easily made by mixing the syrup with plain water. The beverage "became a favourite in the eighteenth century of patrons of London refreshment houses and pleasure gardens" (Emmins 704).



 How to make orgeat with 'The Cocktail Dudes' [video 1]




With the restoration of Charles II in 1660 the public theatres were reopened after an 18 year hiatus. The Restoration stage is one filled with innovation; perhaps the biggest is the advent of women treading the boards. Indeed, new interests in the playhouses were fostered as many spectators wished to watch women act. As a result of the increased popularity in the theatres, classic plays were re-worked in order to accommodate the female roles being played by women, as well as adding new female roles. ‘Breeches scenes’ – where women dress as men – became almost ubiquitous in newly written plays as they allowed the audience to ogle the actresses in tightly fitting male clothing. The objectification of actresses on the restoration stage meant that they were frequently viewed as sexual props: they were there to please and tantalise the male audience, which would entice them to return to the theatre, thus increasing the profits of the shareholders, and, as Elizabeth Howe notes, “for the first three decades of the period ... no woman was allowed to become a sharer” (26) in either the King’s Men or the Duke’s Men.    


Another new feature of the restoration stage is the orange-seller or orange-wench. These orange-sellers stood between the pit and the stage before performances began. They were young girls, chosen for their looks, their approachability, their willingness to pass messages between the rakes in the audience and the actors, and their ability to wittily talk back. They usually worked six days a week and were paid a sixth of their own takings. Mary Meggs, nicknamed Orange Moll, ran the orange selling market in the Theatre Royal, and was granted a licence to “vend, utter and sell oranges, lemons, fruit, sweetmeats and all manners of fruiterers and confectioners wares” (Beauclerk 56) in the theatre. For the privilege of selling inside the Theatre Royal, Meggs paid the theatre six shillings and eightpence every acting day; she sold the oranges for sixpence apiece. The oranges sold in the theatre were the sweet, China variety.


However, eating oranges in the theatre was not without the occasional accident. In his diary, Pepys recalls an episode whilst watching a performance of Henry IV (probably part I) where a "gentleman of good habit ... eating some fruit in the midst of the play, did drop down as dead, being choked; but with much ado Orange Moll did thrust her finger down his throat, and brought him to life again" (2 November 1667). The consumption of oranges in the theatre clearly did have the occasional hiccup. 


The notion that orange-sellers passed notes between people in the theatre can be seen in Thomas Baker's play The fine lady's airs (1708): "I have had but one poor Shilling giv'n to me to Night, and that was for carrying a Note from a Baronet in the Side Box to a Citizens Wife in the Gall'ry" (46). Baker's orange-seller is Betty, and alongside passing messages between the theatre's audience, she also gossips about the lives of various audience members. As Knapsack highlights, Betty's job is a "publick Post [which] brings [her] into a world of private Business" (48). Orange-sellers have a sort of privileged position in that they interact with a variety of people from different classes, and this enables them to obtain information which can be used to their advantage.    


One of Meggs’ orange-sellers was Nell Gwyn, who became an actress and Charles II’s mistress, to whom she begot two children. Gwyn started working as an orange-seller at the age of 13,and clearly caught the attention of the theatre-going gallants. According to the anonymous Memoirs of the Life of Eleanor Gwinn (1752), "no sooner has she appeared in the Pit and behind the Scenes with her Oranges, than the Eyes of the Players, and those sparkish Gentlemen who frequent the Theatres were fixed upon her, all anxious to know the Story and the Birth of the handsome Orange Wench" (10). Within a year of being an orange-seller she caught the attention of Thomas Killigrew, the theatre manager of the King's Company, who introduced her to two of his most successful actors, John Lacy and Charles Hart. Gwyn trained to become an actress under the instruction of Lacy and Hart, and her first role was in Lacy's own comedy The Old Troop (printed in 1672). 


Orange-sellers were frequently seen as second-rate citizens. In a trial for theft from 1726, the victim's wife is referred to as being "no better than an Orange Woman at the Play-house" (Old Bailey 25 April 1726). This is clearly a degrading comment which implies the word of an orange-seller is not worth much; orange-sellers are certainly not held in high esteem. Pepys would also have us believe that orange-sellers were often untruthful: in the theatre "there happened one thing which vexed me, which is that the orange-woman did come in the pit, and challenge me for twelve oranges, which she delivered by my order at a late play, at night, to give to some ladies in a box, which was wholly untrue" (11 May 1668). Perhaps Pepys is telling the truth and the orange-woman is trying to capitalise on a man she probably would have seen in the theatre previously, on account of how often Pepys frequented the London theatres. On the other hand, Pepys could simply be trying to deny his order as his wife's close friend, Mary Mercer, is present with him at the theatre, and he probably would not want to admit he was seeking the attention of other women. 


Furthermore, to be an orange-seller was to be a prostitute in the minds of the public. Indeed, Megg's former profession was a bawd, and the association between orange-sellers and pandering/ prostitution can be seen in Dorimant and Manley repeatedly calling the orange-seller a "bawd" (Etherege 2; 3; 4). Moreover, Howe suggests that Nell Gwyn “began ... selling oranges (and probably herself as well)” (67). Gwyn did have sexual relations with several men, and does not seem to have been concerned over using them to her advantage. 


William Hogarth’s The Laughing Audience depicts a caricatured audience in a theatre watching a comedy. The audience are separated from the orchestra by a wooden partition with spikes to discourage them from climbing over; such actions were not unheard of, especially if the play was dull. The audience is divided into three parts, depicting different classes of people. The fops situated in the box are portrayed as not being interested in the action on the stage, unlike those in the pit who appear to be enjoying the play in an unselfconscious manner. The orange-sellers are drawn with the ‘line of beauty’ – an essential part of Hogarth’s theory of aesthetics – signifying liveliness and activity. The gentleman on the right offers the woman what appears to be a snuff box. The wooing of the orange-sellers, particularly the close proximity between each man and woman, suggests the men have more on their minds than buying and eating oranges: their eyes are firmly focused on the women, not her oranges for sale. Clearly, the men desire something more than oranges, and as orange-sellers they are the women of choice to whet their appetites. The orange-seller below tries to grab the attention of one of the fops; she needs to make a living after all, and none of those occupying the pit appear to be interested. This notion of taking business from another seller suggests that all is fair in orange-selling. Hogarth’s audience is not a universal one: some must work to earn a living, others can find better amusement. 


William Hogarth, The Laughing Audience (1733, printed 1735), engraving [image 2]


Over several centuries, the orange can be seen as the theatre snack par excellence. Even in the nineteenth century, as Charles Dickens notes, there was “no stint of oranges” (57) in the audience. It is unclear exactly when oranges fell out of fashion in the theatre and ice cream took over as the main theatrical snack. However, the reason for the change is probably a change in attitude towards the theatre and what to means to be an audience member: no longer is it acceptable to discard rubbish on the floors as orange peels more than likely were. Ice creams pots are more convenient and easier to dispose of than oranges, hence the swing is favour of the dairy dessert.  


Anything you can grow I can grow better


When oranges first reached Europe, and for several centuries afterwards, they were seen as luxury items, preserves of the upper echelons of society. As the desire for oranges grew across Europe, a new market was created in order to meet the demand for the fruit. However, oranges were still rather expensive in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in much of Europe; they were, largely, still the preserves of the upper classes and the newly emerging mercantile classes of the early seventeenth century.


Aristocrats frequently gave oranges as gifts to display their wealth, status and generosity. In the sixteenth century, Catherine de Medici often gave her guests gifts of oranges and citrons. Moreover, Charles Perrault's Cinderella gives her sisters gifts of oranges, which the prince has bestowed upon her, to mark her metamorphosis into a princess:

The King's son saw her [Cinderella] to a place of honour ... a splendid supper was brought in, but the young prince ate nothing, because he was so busy looking at her. She went to sit next to her two sisters, and paid them all sorts of attention; she gave them a share of the oranges and sweet citrons that she had been given by the prince.



For several centuries, the owning, gifting and eating of oranges mainly belonged to the upper classes. However, as the seventeenth century went on, whilst still considered an exotic fruit, oranges were accessible to more and more people, and by the eighteenth century were staples in cookery. In the wake of oranges no longer being the preserves of the social elite, a new way for them to display their wealth through the fruit came from Dutch technological advancements in the seventeenth century. The new Dutch technology enabled large clear glass to be produced, thus dramatically altering the architectural scene. Out of this new advancement the orangery grew, a building which remained in vogue until the nineteenth century. The name reflects the original use of the building: to house citrus trees. Over the years more and more shrubs, plants and trees were potted in the orangery, with their owners fighting to have the best and the most exotic species in theirs. It is fair to say, citrus trees were signs of wealth; the orangery was a status symbol in the homes of the European social elite.     


In the nineteenth century, glazed roofs were introduced, affording sunlight to non-dormant plants. Dyrham Park's orangery in Gloucestershire had a slate roof when it was built in 1702. Around a hundred years later it was altered and given a glass roof after Humphrey Repton said that it was too dark (Thomas 25).


The eighteenth century saw an explosion of orangeries being built in the UK. After the death of William III, Kensington Palace became Queen Anne's residency. She commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to complete the extensions which William and Mary had begun. But her biggest improvement was in the gardens; in the first few years of her reign she spent £26000 on improving them. She commissioned Nicholas Hawksmoor to build an orangery, later modified by John Vanbrugh, in 1704-5. Judging by the elaborate decoration inside the orangery, it is clear that it was not just intended to house plants: the orangery is clearly also a place for entertaining.      


The orangery at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was built in 1761, and was designed by Sir Williams Chambers. Chambers was employed by Princess Augusta, the founder of Kew, as both an architect for the gardens and as tutor to her son (the future George III). The orangery is built of brick and durable stucco. Although the orangery housed numerous citrus trees, it had low levels of light, making it unsuitable for this purpose. In 1841, Sir William Hooker moved the orange trees to Kensington Palace and installed large glass doors at either end of the orangery to improve its effectiveness.


Moreover, the orangery at Margam Park, Wales, was built between 1787 and 1793 in order to house a large collection of lemon, orange and citron trees which Thomas Mansel Talbot inherited. The orangery was designed by Anthony Keck. It cost £16000 to build, and is made from local Pyle sandstone. At 327 feet in length, is the longest orangery in Britain.


                  The Orangery at Kensington Palace [image 3]       




The Orangery at Kew [image 4]



       The Orangery at Margam Park [image 5]


However, few could aspire to equal the ne plus ultra of orangeries: L'Orangerie du Château de Versailles. This orangery was built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart between 1684 and 1686 and replaced the smaller version created by Louis Le Vau in 1663. The orangery consists of a 150 metre long central vaulted gallery, which is prolonged by two side galleries. In Louis XIV's reign, the orangery was decorated with sculptures and other ornamental decorations. The sheer scale and size of both the orangery and the gardens highlights a money-no-object scheme which sought to display an image of an absolute monarchy, whilst also showcasing the finest architects and scientists of the age. Waverley Root observes that the 1200 orange trees in silver tubs housed in the Versailles orangery were for show rather than a  source of food since Louis XIV, away at war, wrote to his minister "let me know what effect the orange trees at Versailles are making" (304). The orangery became the talk of the aristocratic world, hosting masked balls and other social events; it was also the benchmark by which all other orangeries were compared.



Orangerie at Chateau de Versailles [image 6]  



  Francis Frith, Photograph of the Orangerie at Chateau de Versaille (1850-1870) [image 7]


Around 1745 the orangery at Schonbrunn in Vienna was erected, an orangery which rivalled Versailles in size. Although it held various citrus trees and other exotic plants, it was far from a winter home for the plants: numerous trees were illuminated as part of a setting for elaborate royal parties and imperial festivities. Once again, the orangery is the symbol of choice for displaying wealth among royalty.


In 1709, August the Strong, Elector of Saxony, had plans for an enormous new palace in Dresden. He began with the decadent and lavish orangery, named Zwinger due to its location. A theatre, waterfall, Nymphenbad (a fountain surrounded by statues of nymphs), swimming pool and a banqueting space were all present. The banqueting space sought to make guests feel like they were dining and dancing in an orange grove. Orange trees were in abundance and were potted in blue and white Ming vases. However, August ran out of capital, and after his death in 1733 plans were scaled down; it would not be until around a century later that the complex was completed.


It was, indeed, a bitter end, and all for the love of oranges. Well, oranges and status.   


What's in a name?


Alongside being used for eating and for drinking, oranges took on a new role from the seventeenth century: the symbol of the Royal House of Orange-Nassau. The House of Orange-Nassau was created as a result of the marriage between Henry III of Nassau-Breda and Claudia of Châlon-Orange in 1515. Rene of Châlon, their son, inherited the Principality of Orange in 1530 from his uncle (on his mother's side), Philibert of Châlon. Rene was the first Nassau to also be the Prince of Orange, and as such was entitled to use the name Orange-Nassau. However, his uncle had stipulated in his will that Rene was to continue using Châlon-Orange. After Rene's death in 1544 his cousin William of Nassau-Dillenburg inherited all of his lands. Thus, William became William I, Prince of Orange, the founder of the House of Orange-Nassau.   


Although the royal household was established in the sixteenth century by William I, it was not until the seventeenth century that the orange was used as its universal symbol. The Dutch painter Caspar Netscher painted a portrait of a lady and a child displaying oranges and another lady with an orange blossom in 1679 and in 1683 respectively to either illustrate the ladies' allegiance to or membership of the House of Orange-Nassau.


Caspar Netscher, Portrait of a Lady and a Girl (1679), oil on canvas [image 8]



Caspar Netscher, Portrait of a Lady (1683), oil on canvas [image 9]



In Netscher's Portrait of a Lady and a Girl the oranges are deliberately pointed at; it is clear that the pair want to emphasise a connection with the House of Orange-Nassau, either the pair's allegiance to the House or that they are members of it. The orange tree in the background further emphasises the connection to the royal household. In Netscher's Portrait of a Lady the orange blossom in her hand also points to a connection with the House of Orange-Nassau.


In 1673 a German settlement, Nischwitz, was renamed in honour of Countess Henriette Catherine of Nassau, a member of the House of Orange-Nassau; it became Oranienbaum, nowadays part of the town of Oranienbaum-Worlitz. Even its modern day name pays homage to its roots. The House of Orange-Nassau gave important cultural and economic impetus to both the town and the Principality of Anhalt-Dessau. So great was the influence of the House of Orange-Nassau on the region that to this day in their marketplace is a statute in honour of the royal household. Moreover, every year they hold an orange festival to acknowledge their royal connection.


The Orange in Oranienbaum's marketplace [image 10]


The House of Orange-Nassau took on new significance to citizens of the British Isles when William III became their king. When James II married the Catholic Mary of Modena in 1673 the country was greatly concerned about monarchical succession: any male heir of the couple would mean a future Catholic monarch. In order to try and calm Protestant fears Charles II encouraged the marriage between his nephew, William III of Orange, and his niece (James II's daughter), Mary. Through Charles' encouragement of the marriage, the prospect of a Protestant heir to the throne was raised.


Charles II died in 1685; James became king. Many Protestants in England were sceptical of having a Catholic monarch. In 1688 the Protestant's worse fears were realised when Mary of Modena gave birth to James II's son, James Francis Edward Stuart. The birth of a legitimate son meant that James II's Protestant daughter, Mary, was no longer next in line to the throne. Concerned by the situation, a group of Protestant opposers to James invited William to invade England and take the crown in order to restore the country to Protestant rule.      


In early 1689 the English Parliament offered William and Mary the throne as joint monarchs. They could not govern with the same direct power the previous monarchs had. The pair accepted the Bill of Rights, which laid down the limits of the crown and marks an important step towards the system of Parliamentary rule which still governs the nation today.   


Later in the eighteenth century, another marriage between the English royal family and the House of Orange-Nassau occurred. Anne, Princess Royal, was the eldest daughter of King George II and Caroline of Ansbach. In 1734 she married William IV, Prince of Orange in the Chapel Royal at St James' Park. Ceramics were made to commemorate the marriage, with oranges being the predominant feature of the decoration.


Teapot and cover (ca. 1750) [image 11]



The teapot has a portrait of Princess Anne on the one side and a portrait of William IV, of Orange on the other. Both portraits are flanked by orange branches, full of oranges, to illustrate the union between the British royal household and the House of Orange-Nassau.


It is clear that oranges meant more to seventeenth and eighteenth citizens that a mere source of food and drink; they are the embodiment of a royal household. And not just any royal household, the household which William III belonged to, king of England, Scotland and Ireland until 1702. William's ascension to the throne marked a stance in firm support of Protestantism and his rule marks a transition from the rather autocratic rule of the Stuarts to the Parliament-centred rule of the House of Hanover.


They pulled a Swift one



It well known, that, by the true original Institution of making Punch, left us by Captain Ratcliff, the Sharpness is only occasioned by the Juice of Lemons, and so continued till after the happy Revolution. Oranges, alas! are mere Innovation, and in a Manner but of Yesterday. It was the Politicks of Jacobites to introduce them gradually: And, to what Intent? The thing speaks it self. It was cunningly to shew their Virulence against his sacred Majesty King William, of ever glorious and immortal Memory. But of late, (to shew how fast Disloyalty increaseth) they came from one to two, and then to three Oranges; nay, at present we often find Punch made all with Oranges, and not one single Lemon. For the Jacobites, before the Death of the immortal Prince, had, by a vast Superstition, form'd a private Prayer, that, as they squeez'd the Orange, so might the Protestant King be squeez'd to Death.

(Swift 16-7)


Just as Jonathan Swift was entering into adulthood (1688-89) and was facing difficult decisions over his future, there was widespread turmoil in Ireland following the Glorious Revolution – the civil war that was bloody in Ireland between the supporters of Catholic James II and of Protestant William III – causing Swift and numerous other Protestants to flee to England. Swift's An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities, in London and Dublin (1732) is a prose satire that displays the political paranoia of the Whig administration in its hyperbolised fear of the dangers posed by Tories and suspected Jacobites. The satire is aimed at the Whigs, who continually echoed the party cries of 'No Popery', 'No Jacobites', and various other cognate expressions to curry popular opinion and detract from Tory ideology. These cries did have a great effect, and caused mischief. Roman Catholics were treated with great suspicion as the faith was frequently linked to barbarism and to supporting absolute monarchy. Swift writes in the persona of a Whig and affects extreme anxiety for the most utterly ridiculous of signs, and discovers a papist, or a Jacobite, in the least likely places. In light of this, Swift's satire is an extremely comical read.  


According to the passage, Jacobites gradually added oranges to punch in order to show their bitterness, even hatred, towards William III. The pamphlet's satirical voice says that the orange is symbolical of William, and perhaps the increasing use of oranges in making punch reflects the Jacobite desire to remove the king: as the symbol of the king gets used up, the king, metaphorically, is expiring. There is a sort of (non-religious) pseudo-transubstantiation in the passage: when the orange is being squeezed by the Jacobites they hope, or pray, that the king is squeezed, to death, as well. In line with the rest of Swift's prose satire, the passage is certainly finding Jacobite plotting in the most bizarre situations.


Through this citrus substitution, one could say that the Jacobites certainly did pull a Swift one.   


Annotated Bibliography



Primary Sources


Anon. Memoirs of the Life of Eleanor Gwinn. London, 1752. Historical Texts. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

A rather interesting text, published 65 years after Nell Gwyn's death. The fact that it was published over a half a century after her death implies that there was a fascination and interest in Charles II's mistress in the eighteenth century. The text informed me that Nell Gwyn attracted many admirers whilst working as an orange-seller. 


Baker, Thomas. The fine lady's airs. London, 1708?. Historical Texts. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

Baker's play highlights orange-sellers were still present in eighteenth-century theatres and were still being written about. Betty, the orange-seller, illustrates how the girls were used as messengers and interacted with a wide variety of audience members, across classes.  


Etherege, George. The Man of Mode. London, 1676. Historical Texts. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

Etherege's play is often regarded as the pinnacle of Restoration comedies, and the play's rake, Dorimant, is the quintessential rake character. The play does not give a name to the 'orange-woman', highlighting her as being inferior to the other characters. There is a clear link in the play between orange-sellers and pandering: Dorimant wants the orange-wench to help him meet the acquaintance of Harriet. There are jibes at the orange-seller, and payment is withheld until she helps Dorimant. 


Glasse, Hannah. The Art of Cookery. London, 1747. Historical Texts. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.

Glasse's cookbook is a really interesting insight into the types of recipes and ingredients commonly used in the eighteenth century. Many recipes are complicated, at least to my mindset, and the quantities required are often shockingly high. The abundance of recipes calling for oranges highlights their various uses.   


Gyford, Phil. The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Jan. 2003. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

Pepys' diary is an indispensable document for understanding conditions and life during the early years of the Restoration. I had great fun looking at his various entries, which are meticulously recorded and documented.   


Lind, James. A treatise on the scurvy. London, 1753. Historical Texts. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

Lind's treatise documents various studies conducted in an attempt to try and find a way to prevent scurvy. Although he does not exactly identify citrus juice as being a cure, he does document that sailors who consumed citrus juices showed signs of being better than those who did not. 


Moxon, Elizabeth. English Housewifery. 8th ed. Leeds, 1758. Historical Texts. Web. 6 Feb. 2015.

This text provided me with a recipe for an orange shrub, which is surprisingly difficult to find in other recipe books. It also allowed me to see some more eighteenth-century recipes requiring oranges.


Old Bailey Proceedings Online. (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.0. 14 February 2015), April 1726, trial of William Moseley (t17260425-28).

This case highlights that orange-sellers were seen as untrustworthy, and their word was worth very little. I found this interesting as Pepys records in his diary an incident where an orange-seller accused him of ordering 12 oranges for some women. Two different sources would have us believe orange-sellers were liars.  


Perrault, Charles. "Cinderella." The Complete Fairy Tales. Trans. C. J. Betts. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. Print.

Cinderella was a surprising source for me as I did not remember there being oranges in the tale when I read it as a child. The story highlights how oranges were used as status symbols and were exotic and expensive items, once upon a time.  


Public Advertiser. London. 1 Aug. 1754. Web. Burney Collection Newspapers. 2 Feb. 2015.

The newspaper tells us that the copyright of Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery was up for sale, suggesting that there was money to be made from the copyright. 


Swift, Jonathan. An Examination of Certain Abuses, Corruptions, and Enormities, in London and Dublin. London: 1732. Historical Texts. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

I really enjoyed reading this text. The prose satire ridicules the Whigs for exaggerating the threat posed by Tories and suspected Jacobites. The tone is typical of Swift, and the absurd places where Jacobites are found in the text make it a really comical read. 



Secondary Sources


Beauclerk, Charles. Nell Gwyn: Mistress to the King. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006. Print.

An interesting read from a direct descendant of Charles II and Nell Gwyn. Though the book is rather poorly referenced, it does offer a useful insight into the life of Nell Gwyn.  


Dickens, Charles. “The Amusements of the People.” Household Words. Ed. Charles Dickens. 1.3 (1850): pp. 57-60. Print.

This short piece revealed to me that oranges were still consumed in theatres in the mid-nineteenth century.  


Emmins, Colin. "Soft Drinks." The Cambridge World History of Food, Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.

A rather exhaustive account of the history of food. I discovered that orgeat was popular in pleasure gardens and London refreshment houses.  


Howe, Elizabeth. The First English Actresses. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. Print. 

Howe's book offers an insight into a topic which has relatively little scholarship. I enjoyed reading this book; it offered an insight into the conditions of the Restoration theatre for women, and I have found it useful for other modules.   


Needham, Joseph. Science and civilisation in China, Vol. 6.1. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.

This book was immensely useful in understanding the origins of oranges, and provided a range of images to illustrate how oranges featured in artwork in China.  


Oakley, Tim. "Shrub: a history." Difford's Guide. 9 Aug. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

This article provided me with a history of shrubs and how their popularity can probably be attributed to the increase in smuggling from the late seventeenth century onwards.  


Root, Waverley. Food. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980. Print.

Root's book showed me how the Chateau de Versailles was built as a status symbol and Louis XIV acknowledged this in a letter he wrote whilst at war.


Santich, Barbara. The Original Mediterranean Cuisine. Totnes: Prosper Books, 1995. Print.

Santich's book provided me with an insight into how oranges featured in multiple European countries, across several centuries. 


"Scientists claim citrus originated in Australia." Phys.org. 1 Oct. 2007. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.

The article is fairly recent and supports the earlier theory proposed by Swingle and Reece.  


Swingle, Walter T. and Philip C. Reece. "The Botany of Citrus and Its Wild Relatives." The Citrus Industry, Vol. I. Ed. Walter Reuther et al. Berkley; Los Angeles: U of California P, 1967. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.

The Citrus Industry consists of five volumes and contains useful information of all citrus species. For me, this chapter provided a valuable  theory on where oranges originated, a theory which islater confirmed by Professors David Mabberley and Andrew Beattie.         


Thomas, G. S.. "Orangeries in the National Trust." Quarterly Newsletter of the Garden History Society. 4 (Spring 1967): pp. 25-7. JSTOR. Web. 7 Feb. 2015.

This article documents some of the orangeries under the care of the National Trust and revealed to me the change that happened to the roof of the orangery at Dyrham Park, and the reason why. 




1) Image of a recipe to make orange wine from Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery. 1774. Library of Congress, Washington D. C. Google Books. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.


2) Hogarth, William. The Laughing Audience. 1735 (printed). Photograph. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Victoria and    Albert Museum. Web. 12 Jan. 2015.


3) Queen Anne's Orangery. n.d. Photograph. Kensington Palace. hrp.org. Web. 12 Feb. 2015


4) Orangery. n.d. Photograph. Kew Botanical Gardens. Kew. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.


5) The Orangery. n.d. Photograph. Margam Country Park. Margam Country Park. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.


6)The Orangerie. n.d. Photograph. Chateau de Versailles. Chateau Versailles. Web. 12 Feb 2015. 


7) Frith, Francis. Photograph. 1850-1870. Photograph. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Victoria and   Albert Museum. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.


8) Netscher, Caspar. Portrait of a Lady and a Girl. 1679. Photograph. The National Gallery, London. The National Gallery. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.


9) Netscher, Caspar. Portrait of a Lady. 1683. Photograph. The National Gallery, London. The National Gallery. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.


10) The Orange. n.d. Photograph. Oranienbaum. Woerlitz-information. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. 


11) Teapot and cover. ca. 1750 (made). Photograph. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Victoria and Albert Museum. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.




1) The Cocktail Dudes. "How to make Orgeat." Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube. 11 May 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. 



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