The Quickes Family has a lot to thank Anne Boleyn for.
It was because of her that Henry VIII fell out with the Catholic church, dissolved the monasteries and reallocated their land. Some of that land – a particularly beautiful stretch near Newton St Cyres, in Devon, to be precise – he allotted to a chap called Thomas Bidwell.
And when our distant ancestor Richard Quicke walked Thomas’ daughter Elizabeth up the aisle of the local church, the Quicke family became established in this green and very pleasant corner of Devon.
So thanks, Anne.
The Quickes fell in love with the place and set to work, inspired by the family motto ‘Petit ardua virtus’ – ‘strength seeks challenges’. Generation after generation, they toiled and tilled and tended, nurturing the ancient fields and woodlands, doing all they could to build a better farm, serve the village and create a beautiful place to live.
Each eldest son in succession took his turn as careful custodian of the land, as the centuries slipped by. Although the English Civil War proved a difficult time for Andrew Quicke, who wasn’t to keen on King Charles I’s dictatorial policies, he maintained guardianship of the land until his brother John Quicke took over in 1654.
After the Civil War, squires of Old England like the Quickes lived well. But they never let their good fortune go to their heads, moving with the changing times. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, they dabbled successfully in manganese mining, until competition from South African mines forced them to close. Then in the late 1800s, as the Agricultural Depression began to bite, American wheat poured into Britain forcing farmers to adapt once again. Because the fields weren’t worth farming, the Quickes planted acre after acre of acorns. And thank goodness they did – the results of their labours still stand to this day, making Newton St. Cyres a beautiful wooded parish, where we still plant more than 7000 trees a year.
The two World Wars brought dire regulations on cheesemaking, with farmers only permitted to make ‘National Cheese’, a bland cheddar-style abomination that was enough to put anyone off cheese for life.
Other forms of farming fed the people and paid the wages, so few farmers went to the extra trouble of cheesemaking. Sad times indeed.
But every cloud has a silver lining, as they say, and yet another shift in history – the agricultural surplus problems of the 1970s – led Sir John Quicke back into cheesemaking. With the family motto in mind, he set out to honour his lineage and the ancient fields of his farm by crafting the finest cheese in the world.
This proud tradition continues today. Using traditional recipes, time-honoured techniques and heritage starters passed down through the generations, Quicke’s continue to create outstanding artisanal clothbound cheddar.
Made by hand in the old-fashioned way, slowly matured for a deeply satisfying flavour, our cheese celebrates the deep connection that has grown between the Quicke family and the land they have nurtured for almost 500 years.