Many people are surprised to learn that truffles can be found growing wild in England. This is not a recent discovery; from the late 17th century until the 1930s, truffle hunting was a cottage industry with the main centres in Wiltshire, Sussex and Hampshire. Those involved were often farm labourers, woodsmen or shepherds, who turned to truffle hunting in the autumn and winter. With their dogs, they searched beech woods for truffles to sell direct to customers and to middlemen who sold them at Covent Garden in London. Some also provided entertainment for the gentry and their country estate guests.
For a variety of reasons, the “last professional truffle hunter” retired in the 1930s, his knowledge going to the grave with him. Starting in about the year 2000, there was a re-birth of the of the industry and its growth has continued to the present day. In this new article on the history of English truffles, we look with particular reference to Wiltshire, Sussex and Hampshire, the reasons why truffle hunting almost died out in England, and finally, at the re-birth of the English truffle industry.