Couple give their baby a baptism of CHEESE! Are they crackers?

A DALES couple took a slice of Victorian wisdom to give their baby a Gouda start in life - a baptism of cheese.

Andy and Kathy Swinscoe with baby Walter

Andy and Kathy Swinscoe re-enacted an age-old tradition by passing two-month-old Walter through a “ring of cheese” in a forgotten custom which is supposed to give a child good luck for the rest of its life.

Mr and Mrs Swinscoe, who run a cheesemaking business in Settle, discovered the tradition of “groaning cheese” in a 19th century book, which advised cutting chunks of Cheddar from the centre of a wheel, giving the pieces to well-wishers and passing the baby through the ring that remained.

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Victorian custom dictates that the remaining cheese should be distributed to the young, unmarried women present - who were supposed to put the rind in the toe of their left stocking and throw it over their right shoulder, before retreating to bed, backwards and without speaking, to dream of their future husbands.

A page from the Victorians' book

Mr Swinscoe, who runs Settle’s Courtyard Dairy, said: “When I first told Kathy that I thought it was a good idea to re-enact the tradition, I expected her to disagree in no uncertain terms. But she warmed to the idea.

“It’s true that both of us love a bit of British eccentricity, so seeing our newborn into the world through the middle of a cheese seemed particularly fitting for the son of dedicated cheesemongers.”

A page from the Victorians' book