The Huntingdon Salt Cellar

artefact

Presented to the Officers 1st Bn East Surrey Regiment by Maj Packham 1911.

This is another piece of silver that is steeped in tradition and ceremony. The piece itself is a highly chased and ornate silver standing salt pot, with cover and spoon. The top is in a crown pattern with “XXXI” embossed on the body. The lid is surmounted with an oak tree with hunting dogs beneath. Inside the lid a fragment of the 31st Regiment’s Colours is mounted. This fragment is from the Colours carried at the Battle of Sobraon, Punjab, during the Sikh Wars of 1846. At every Regimental Dinner ‘The Salt Ceremony’ is performed: a tradition inherited from the East Surrey Regiment (31st and 70th of Foot), whereby both the senior officer present and any new officers first dining in the Mess take salt from the cellar.

Due to the cellars connection to Sobraon it is a reminder of the responsibilities that accompany becoming part of the Mess. The names of all those who have ‘taken salt’ with the Regiment are recorded in a bespoke ledger. Those who are guests, but who are not joining the Regiment may be invited to take salt with the Commanding Officer. They do not sign the ledger.

The inscription reads, “Presented to the Officers 1st Bn East Surrey Regiment by Maj Packham 1911. The 31st Regt Huntingdonshire salt.”