Senior figures at Plymouth Gin came face to face with their own history in the city recently.
Two beautiful parchment deeds dating back to 1668 were on show at the Plymouth City Art Gallery and Museum at an event to mark the launch of the Open for Business exhibition.
Staff at Plymouth and West Devon Record Office tracked down deeds to give the company representatives a flavour of the historic links to the city.
JC Iglesias, Global brand leader of Plymouth Gin, which is owned by Pernod Ricard said: “It was a real thrill to see something that links us back so far to the city of Plymouth.
“It was great to see it and a real privilege to be able to hold such a remarkable and beautiful document – it’s only a few years older than my country!”
Two documents are currently on display at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery after being retrieved from the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, where they are held.
The earliest deed is a 1668 lease for the Marshalsea, or the old prison, between Sir Edward Hungerford and Richard Pearce, a gentleman of Holbeton. It is made of parchment and is written in English. It is part of a collection of deeds deposited by Plymouth Gin covering the period 1668 to 1874.
The second deed is from a large collection of family and estate papers for the Bastard Family of Kitley House, Yealmpton.
Deputy leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Peter Smith, said: “We are delighted to be the custodians of the Plymouth Gin’s considerable heritage.
“They are very much part of this city and their brand is helping spread the name of Plymouth far and wide.”
The famous distillery site on Southside Street is believed to have originally been the home of a Dominican order of Black Friars monks, who used possibly as a small brewery.
From the mid-17th century it housed the Marshalsea, or prison. By 1689 it was as a non-conformist meeting house, known as the Old Marshalls, and is thought to have been used by the French Huguenot community in Plymouth.
By 1706, Richard Pett, a wine cooper, was leasing the building. He then purchased the building in 1736 from John Edgcumbe of Plympton St Mary.
By 1768, the Old Marshalsea building housed a malt house, a brew house and stable, and was owned by the Derby family. Although the Coates family distilled the famous gin in Plymouth from at least 1793, and possibly earlier, they didn’t lease the building, from the King brothers, in Southside Street until 1821.
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