In 1858, a Yorkshire Christmas pie was served to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. The pie was beautifully decorated but also of such enormous size that it had to be carried into the room on the shoulders of four footmen. Although not all Yorkshire Christmas pies were so large, they were a status symbol because of the expensive ingredients used. This was also true in the seventeenth century, as illustrated by these few lines from Robert Herrick’s poem “Christmas Eve”: “Come guard this night the Christmas-Pie, / That the thief, though ne’er so sly, / With his flesh-hooks, don’t come nigh, / To catch it.” A French visitor of the same period noted that the pie contained beef, fowl, eggs, sugar, currants, citrus, and an array of spices.
While the French traveler mentioned beef in the pie, goose was the more common choice for large Christmas pies. In the eighteenth century, Yorkshire pies were made by stuffing a turkey with smaller birds, one inside another, and then sewing the birds closed, much like the contemporary turducken. Here, filleted meat and poultry have been used for ease.