Richard Armitage, pasty king

There are other Richard Armitages. We all know about the politician, of course, and he shows up here regularly. But lately I keep getting this alert, a quotation from a Richard Armitage who is CFO of a company called Samworth Brothers, which has just purchased a different company called West Cornwall Pasty Co. It’s a fast food company that specializes in (surprise) pasties.

I assume most readers of this blog are familiar with the pasty already, but if not, this is what they look like:


Inside the crust one finds a cooked filling of beef, potato, and a root vegetable like a turnip or carrot, usually just with salt and pepper but lately, I’ve noticed, people are getting fancy and putting other herbs and seasonings in them. We in Wisconsin love pasties (pronounced with a short “a,” incidentally). They are particularly popular in the southeast corner of the state (you can buy them in the Memorial Union of the University of Wisconsin, right as you walk in the main entrance, for instance) and apparently in the northwest, but people like them even in areas of the state where no Cornish people ever lived.

Pasties migrated here in the 1830 and 40s with the Cornish miners, who left Cornwall due to the poor economy there and came here to mine lead and zinc and other things. The pasties we eat here are about the size of my hand, and I guess this was a good thing to eat in the mining tunnels. A lot of the miners moved on to the gold fields by the 1850s but many stayed, and there is a historical site in their memory at Pendarvis. Their descendants are still here, and you still see the distinctive names in the paper that start with Tre- and Pen-, although I guess there are no longer native speakers of the Cornish language here.

We also got our state animal from the Cornish miners. When they came, apparently they lived in tents in summer and in the winter they initially tunneled their way into the sides of the hills in that region of the state and were dubbed “badgers.” Lest you think this is a particularly pitiful story — not so much around here, but on the prairies just west of here, the first Europeans to settle permanently also tunneled into the sides of creek banks or cut up the sod and made houses out of it until they could build more permanent structures. People lived in these “soddies” into the twentieth century.


The Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin (1848).

The seal adopted at statehood has many remaining signs of the Cornish in it — mining tools, lead ingots to symbolize mineral riches, the badger at the top, which is the symbol of the Cornish miners, and of course, the corner miner himself at right. I seem to remember learning in school that there’s some significance to the red shirt — did the Cornish typically wear red shirts? — but I’ve forgotten.

Well, that’s a rabbit trail for you. I wish this particular other Richard Armitage much fun with his supervision of the West Cornwall Pasty Co and I hope that he gets to eat a few.

~ by Servetus on January 6, 2017.

22 Responses to “Richard Armitage, pasty king”

  1. It’s funny that you picked up on this because it popped into my inbox too and I was just musing on my periodic updates on the lives of the other Richard Armitages out there. There is one in Sydney who manages a supermarket.

    It also reminded me of a day where I googled RA characters and was thrilled to find a Guy Gisborne who had a box manufacturing business in Nottingham. Even better, he made the boxes for Thorntons chocolates. Then I felt a bit stalkerish and stopped looking but I often wonder if he still makes those chocolate boxes!


    • How great is that?!


    • This kind of takes me back to the days before our Richard Armitage joined Twitter — there were something like a dozen profiles of Richard Armitages that were more or less dormant and some people would follow all of them in hopes they’d “strike gold.” Now there are one or two “other” quotidian Richard Armitages on twitter who actually post once in a while.

      Hilarious that there are actually people named Guy Gisborne.


  2. I love your rabbit trails… It is one of the reasons why I enjoy your reading your blog; where else could I learn about Wisconsin’s connection to Cornwall, trouser breaks and many other interesting incidental subjects, as well as indulging my interest in Richard Armitage?!
    PS I am partial to a Cornish pasty too!


    • It just happened. One second I was looking at that alert and the next I was opening a window to write about the “badgers.” Richard Armitage is so inspiring, even the wrong Richard Armitage, lol 🙂

      They are good, aren’t they?


  3. Love a good pasty! I enjoyed a few authentic cornish pasties when I was in Vienna (from Cornwall Pasty Pirates), which was an unexpected find. It was a welcome change from wiener schnitzel!


  4. These pasties are great, but expect to feel sluggish and sleepy after eating one! (In a comfy, Sunday afternoon kind of way). I love the cheese & onion one – thank goodness I don’t work opposite one of their stores anymore.


    • Thanks for the review. It’s good to know that the other Richard Armitage’s company has bought into a solid product. I see they also have a vegan option.


  5. I wish it was our Richard. It would be a great, homey investment for him. Wishing I had one right now, regardless of the Richard. As soon as you mentioned tunnel dwellings, my mind shot to My Antonia. Am I remembering correctly that that was a part of that book?


  6. I also recall some months back seeing something pop up that would ship Cornish pasties… Unfortunately, shipping charges to the U.S. were cost prohibitive.


  7. That is one odd-looking badger, though!

    The best Cornish pasties I ever tasted were from a bakery in a place called Rock, in Cornwall,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the crimping of the crust was so it could be eaten without washing your hands. And one end was the meat mixture and the other was jam.

    Belated New Year wishes to all, while I’m here, and many, many thanks, Servetus, for all your reporting during the recent Armitage glut.


    • badgers: I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.

      Don’t know about crimping or jam — I have never been to Cornwall, sadly. I read last night that there is a dispute whether one should crimp on side or on top. In any case most foods like this are for convenience of some kind. Someone wrote me on FB that originally the crust was not eaten at all. It was rockhard and discarded.

      Thanks for the kind words!


  8. Didn’t Laura Ingalls Wilder live in a sod house in one of her books about her childhood?


  9. Funny i was thinking that I should make some pasties someday soon. The boy’s like taking them for lunch to school. I even make little ones for appetizers for parties, everyone loves them as they are so different and no one finds them at other parties.


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