Cabinets of Curiosity 13: Biddenden cake
This is a Biddenden cake, imprinted with the image of Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, a pair of conjoined twins, supposedly born in Biddenden, Kent in the year AD 1100.
They are said to have been joined at the shoulder and the hip, and on their death bequeathed 5 plots of land to the village, known as the Bread and Cheese Lands.
The income from these lands was used to pay for an annual dole of food and drink to the poor every Easter.
The legend became incredibly popular in Victorian times when thousands of rowdy visitors flocked to the village each Easter.
Visitors sometimes kept a Biddenden cake as a souvenir, and several ancient, rock-hard examples are known to survive, including this one at Folkestone Museum.
Did you know?
Some foods are made hard on purpose. A good example is hard tack, a salty biscuit familiar to sailors in Nelson’s navy, and still eaten by soldiers in the First World War. It could last for several years, and often got infested with weevils, which were tapped out onto the table, or swallowed whole for extra protein!