National Cheese Day 2024 - a day to celebrate Single Gloucester, a cheese that can only be made in Gloucestershire

Rod Smart with a Traditional Double Gloucester Cheese by Smarts Traditional Gloucester Cheeses
-Credit: (Image: Smarts Traditional Cheeses/Will Luker)


Here in Gloucestershire we're incredibly lucky to have some cheese that carries our city's name with and on National Cheese Day 2024 we can celebrate that. January 20 was UK National Cheese Lovers Day but June 4 is National Cheese Day, a delightful celebration that pays homage to a beloved and versatile food.

Cheddar has been named as the UK's favourite cheese for generations but in Gloucestershire the county is well know for Double Gloucester and Single Gloucester. In fact 2024 marks a significant milestone for Single Gloucester itself as it will be 30 years since the cheese was awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status.

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Originating on Gloucestershire farms more than 200 years ago, Single Gloucester can only be made on Gloucestershire farms which have a herd of Old Gloucester cows.

It is softer and has a more open texture than most English hard cheeses and is uncoloured and may have a naturally mouldy rind. The cheeses are traditionally made thinner than a Double Gloucester, they also tend to have a lower fat content, hence ‘Single’ rather than ‘Double’.

Charles Martell with Stinking Bishop with Single Gloucester inset
Charles Martell with Stinking Bishop with Single Gloucester inset -Credit:Charles Martell

All this vital information is courtesy of Charles Martell & Sons Ltd, who have been making cheese in Gloucestershire for 50 years. Charles began by hand-milking his three Old Gloucester cows where the first cheese he made was a Double Gloucester from their milk. 1978 was the year the lost Single Gloucester was revived at his Dymock farm and it is also 30 years since Charles developed and launched Stinking Bishop.

"Being a part of Gloucestershire" with its cheesemaking is what drives Charles to succeed. Speaking on Single Gloucester, "creating the cheese is all part of the jigsaw and the absence of it in the county is unthinkable", Charles says. "Single Gloucester belongs here where it's good it is all back now where we have six producers making Double and Single, as it should be."

Charles adds: "It is a feeling of place and I think people buying the cheese do want to be part of something that gives Gloucestershire an identity. I'm all for the competition as well as it does indeed keep us all on our toes."

The recent yearly Cheese Rolling that takes place at Coopers Hill is a fine example of Single Gloucester being on the map as something the county should be proud, an occasion where even Charles had Dutch visitors turn up and buy some some cheese, a genuine piece of the action.

Rod Smart
Rod Smart -Credit:Will Luker

Charles Martell, Wick Court Cheese, Jonatham Crump, Godsells and Smarts are fine examples of Single Gloucester makers, where Rod Smart was taught by mother Diana Smart. As makers of the Double Gloucester cheese for the big day every May, starting when she was in her 60s Diana was a fine cheese maker at their Churcham farm where today Rod says you're making something "we care about".

"Cheesemaking can be very therapeutic and it can be exhausting," Rod said. "It is a physical job and I always enjoy when visitors come here to find out how it is done. To have Gloucester cheese as an identity as a true proper local cheese is important and by buying a good cheese from us I think gives people pleasure."

A fine example of a cheese shop in Gloucestershire? One location to buy some cheese is The Cheeseworks in Cheltenham, who have been selling cheese for over 30 years, a shop that "seeks to take our customers back to an age when supermarkets did not exist and people were on first name terms with their fishmonger, butcher and greengrocer."

Katie with as much cheese as you can find at The Cheeseworks in Cheltenham
Katie with as much cheese as you can find at The Cheeseworks in Cheltenham -Credit:Will Luker

Katie Marjai, who looks after the shop says "people are always mad about cheese and lots do get interested in our local producers. We always need the local producers because we will rely too much on supermarkets. More people are asking about Single Gloucester when they come to shop here. I do think more people are thinking about eco shopping (such as food miles to get produce), so the more people asking and buying from our shop really helps small businesses like us."