Forgotten? Though I can rarely attend their dinners (in Birmingham), I am a proud member of the Buckland Club (motto: Semper in ventrem aliquid novi). Dedicated to the memory and gastronomic exploits of Francis Trevelyan (Frank) Buckland (1826–1880), the Oxford-born surgeon, natural historian and popular writer who aspired to eat a member of every living animal species, the Club’s repasts are unfailingly interesting, if seldom so ambitious.
Frank’s penchant for zoöphagy came from his father, William (1784–1856), a Canon and Dean of Christ Church, where he served up delicacies such as mice on toast, pickled horse tongue, puppies, hedgehog, crocodile and bear. The travel writer Augustus Hare is the source of the oft-repeated tale that while visiting Nuneham Courtenay, William was shown a relic — the heart of the French king Louis XIV, housed in a silver casket:
Dr Buckland exclaimed: ‘I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before,’ and, before anyone could hinder him, he had gobbled it up… He used to say that he had eaten his way straight through the whole animal creation, and that the worst thing was a mole — that was utterly horrible.