Pimm’s was invented by James Pimm who lived just outside Sittingbourne!
The villagers of Newnham, Sittingbourne can raise a glass of Pimm’s every summer and toast one of their former residents … James Pimm!
James was the child of a farming family who was born in Newnham in 1792. His interest was very much in food, particularly shellfish — maybe inspired by the closeness to Faversham, which was as famous for oysters back then as Whitstable is today.
He married a girl from Cobham, near Rochester in 1822 when he was thirty. Mary Southernden Mallery was 24 at that time. They went on to have eleven children together.
James set up a restaurant in London, near to Buckingham Palace which was a great success - with members of the royal family being amongst his customers. Oysters are now a luxury food but at that time oysters were incredibly cheap and a really good source of protein for poorer people - they were sold on almost every street corner of London. Famous satirist, poet and author Jonathon Swift (author of Gullivers Travels) once said "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster."
In a bid to make a drink to help the oysters slide down James came up with the recipe for Pimm’s. A gin based fruity spirit and to this day the recipe is a secret! It is only known by a small handful of people. In 1840 when it was introduced to the world, the drink was served in a tankard called the ‘Number 1 Cup’. This evolved into the Pimm’s Number 1 that we enjoy today … especially on a warm summer day!
James went on to create further recipes and five restaurants. Mary died at the age of 68, by which time only seven of their children were living. James died two years later in 1866, having retired to East Peckham, Kent. He was buried in a grave at the Holy Trinity Church.
In the late 1800s, Horatio Davies, who later went on to become the Lord Mayor of London, was involved in the business and a fortune was made both back then and continues to do so today.
Got to say we’ve never noticed the apostrophe in the drink name before - or James Pimm’s name across the label!
Order yours today!