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Q&A: What are the Easter treats known as Biddenden cakes?

What are Biddenden cakes?

Published: April 2, 2011 at 9:00 am
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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.

Answered by: Nick Rennison

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This Q&A was first published in the March 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine

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