Stinking Bishop
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Source of milkCow
TextureSmooth, creamy, semi-soft
Fat content48%
Aging timec. 4 months
Related media on Commons

Stinking Bishop is a washed-rind cheese produced since 1972 by Charles Martell and Son at Hunts Court Farm, Dymock, Gloucestershire, in the west of England. It is made from the milk of Old Gloucester cattle.


By 1972, just sixty-eight heifers of the Old Gloucester breed were left in the world. Charles Martell bought up many of the surviving cows, and began to produce cheese from their milk, not initially for its own sake, but to promote interest in the breed. With a revival of interest from other farmers in the endangered breed, overall Gloucester cow numbers began to recover, increasing to around 450 by 2016. Martell's own herd of cows had expanded over the years; it still remained relatively small for a dairy herd, at twenty-five head by 2015, meaning that the Gloucester milk needed to be combined and pasteurised with the milk of Friesian cattle from other nearby farms, for cheese production to be economically viable.[1]

Stinking Bishop is an artisanal, handmade cheese, so is not marketed through supermarkets. As of 2017 it had over 130 stockists[2] across the UK, retailing in artisan food stores and delicatessens, as well as in Harrods and Selfridges.


The colour of Stinking Bishop ranges from white-yellow to beige, with an orange to grey rind. It is moulded into wheels two kilograms (4.4 lb) in weight, 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in diameter, and 4 centimetres (1.6 in) deep. Only about twenty tonnes (44,000 lb) are produced each year.[3]

The distinctive odour comes from the ripening process, during which the cheese is rind-washed: it is immersed in perry (the traditional pear cider of the region) made from the local Stinking Bishop pear – from which the cheese gets its name – every four weeks while it matures. To increase the moisture content and to encourage bacterial activity, salt is not added until the cheese is removed from its mould.[1] The fat content is 48 per cent.

A slice showing typical maturation at room temperature

Popular culture

The cheese was brought to international attention by the animated comedy Wallace and Gromit. In the 2005 animated film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Gromit uses it to revive Wallace. Demand for the cheese subsequently rose by 500 per cent,[4] forcing the cheesemaker to hire more staff and increase production.[5] It was also referenced again at the end of Episode 4 of Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention, where Wallace samples an even more pungent – fictional – variant of Stinking Bishop, called "Stinking Archbishop".[6]

Chef Andrew Zimmern, host of the TV show Bizarre Foods (Travel Channel), tastes Stinking Bishop during a visit to Harrods in London. Zimmern's sampling of the cheese is shown in a segment where he is guided at the famous department store by marketing manager Andre Dange. (It does not appear in the show's recap, which mentions other delicacies tasted by Zimmern, but not the cheese.)[citation needed]

In the 2011 Channel 4 show King Of..., host Claudia Winkleman and her two guests Chris Evans and Sarah Millican adjudicate on contenders for the King of Cheese; Stinking Bishop was awarded the title by Winkleman and Evans (with Millican expressing dislike for cheese in general).[7][8]


See also


  1. ^ a b "Stinking Bishop". Teddington Cheese. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Invite the Bishop!". Charles Martell & Son - Cheesemakers and Distillers. 15 March 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  3. ^ Kirby, Terry (14 September 2005). "A history of the Stinking Bishop". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 6 November 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Farmer's vow as film boosts demand". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Press Association. 30 December 2005. Archived from the original on 24 June 2006.
  5. ^ Morris, Steven (13 September 2005). "Stinking Bishop lives in fear of the Wallace & Gromit effect". The Guardian.
  6. ^
    • Connor, Alan (26 October 2023). Pointless Facts for Curious Minds: A new kind of quiz book. Ebury Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4735-3366-0. Stinking Archbishop, which features in Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention, sadly remains fictional.
    • "My Haven: Wallace & Gromit". Mail Weekend Magazine. 7 December 2019. p. 3.
  7. ^ Mark Harper, Member for Forest of Dean (8 July 2020). "Covid-19: Employment Levels". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Vol. 678. United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 961. Direct link to plain text
  8. ^ Claudia Winkleman (17 June 2011). "Holidays, jobs, cheese". King of ... Series 1. Episode 1. Channel Four Television Corporation. Event occurs at 17:55 – 23:27. Channel 4.
  9. ^ "Stinking Bishop". Retrieved 21 May 2018.