The perfect way to top off a long walk through the stunning autumn countryside around Killyleagh is by curling up with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. The Old Post Office Tea Rooms at Lisbane or Killyleagh’s own Picnic Delicatessen are two of the best places close by to sample a frothy cup of liquid deliciousness complete with whipped cream and marshmallows – but did you know just how closely connected Killyleagh is with hot chocolate? One of the nation’s favourite winter beverages was brought to the world by one of Killyleagh’s most famous sons!
Hans Sloane was born in 1660 and raised on Fredrick Street, right next to Killyleagh Castle itself. Young Hans developed an interest in botany in his teens and left Killyleagh to study in Paris and London before qualifying as a doctor.
In 1687, he travelled to Jamaica as physician to the governor, the second Duke of Albermarle. This trip was perfect for the young botanist as he was able to take samples and make details of everything from the phosphorescence in the sea to the flora and fauna native to Jamaica.
Sloane returned to London two years later. He brought with him jars of samples and copious notes gathered during his travels but the most important thing he brought back, however, was a recipe for mixing cocoa with milk to form a hot drink - hot chocolate was born.
Hans Sloane left many legacies behind when he died in 1753. London’s Sloane Square is named after him – not to mention Sir Hans Sloane Square in Killyleagh – and it was thanks to him that four acres beside the Thames has become the world-famous Chelsea Physic Garden. He became president of both the Royal Society – succeeding Sir Isaac Newton – and the Royal College of Physicians. His huge collection of natural history specimens and books formed the basis of what would become the world-renowned British Museum.
Hans Sloane is celebrated by the town of Killyleagh each year with events ranging from the Hans Sloane Annual Lecture to the annual Chocolate Ball. However, anyone visiting the Dufferin Coaching Inn and the surrounding town can remember him in a very simple way this winter – by raising a lovely cup of hot chocolate!
For more information on Hans Sloane click here.