Tennis and Strawberries

In anticipation of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships- 29 June to 12 July 2015 – our thoughts have turned, as you can imagine, to strawberries. In A brief account of the Fruit, Herbs & Vegetables of Italy by Giacomo Castelvetro (see earlier blog post), Castelvetro commented that he ate strawberries ‘by the plateful’ in Cambridge during the October of 1613. He also wrote that they are ‘one of the healthiest fruits to eat’; strawberries are full of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, and contain fibre, folic acid, manganese and potassium.

The strawberry (Fragaria) is a member of the Rosaceae (Rose) family. Ovid and Virgil briefly mentioned the wild strawberry in their poetry, and the Romans in general thought it had medicinal properties. By 12th century the French were transplanting wood strawberries to their gardens and from the early 13th century onwards strawberries featured in the illumination of Western European manuscripts. Manuscript R.17.4 Jerome, Opera was signed and dated 1477 by Theodoricus Nycolaus Werken de Appenbroek and is part of a two-volume set with R.17.5, illuminated in a ‘Netherlandish style’ either by Werken or a compatriot.

Border in R.17.4
Border including Strawberries (R.17.4)

If you are visiting SW19 you can simply eat strawberries or, if you are watching Wimbledon at home, perhaps try one of Tom Hunt’s strawberry recipes: sourdough summer pudding, five-minute fool, strawberry and mascarpone ice-cream or strawberry daiquiri.

Tennis Match at Trinity, 1906
Tennis Match at Trinity, 1904 (Adv Album 24.35)


George M. Darrow, The Strawberry, History, Breeding and Physiology (NY 1966)

Kew Gardens, “Potentilla vesca (woodland strawberry)”

Morgan, N., and S. Panayotova, et al., ed., Illuminated Manuscripts in Cambridge: A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges. Part One, The Low Countries, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, 2 vols (London, 2009), vol. 1, no. 37, pp.86-88.