Easter treats: what are Biddenden cakes?

What are Biddenden cakes?

AXDC2T The Biddenden Charity Dole Kent UK 2008 Easter Monday. Also know as Chulkhurst Charity after Elisa & Mary Chulkhurst 1100-1134. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

Every Easter Monday, in the village of Biddenden in Kent, a charity doles out tea, cheese and loaves of bread to local pensioners, and distributes hard-baked biscuits, known as Biddenden cakes, to villagers and visitors alike.

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Stamped on each cake is a representation of the ‘Biddenden maids’, conjoined twins from the 12th century who supposedly left money in their wills to found the charity. Joined at hip and shoulder, the twins, usually named as Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst, are said to have lived to their thirties and died within six hours of one another in 1134.

There is little evidence, though, that the Chulkhursts actually existed and the earliest account of what is probably a legend was only published in 1770.
 

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Answered by: Nick Rennison