The claims of the poor were not overlooked.
The sisters, in their will, bequeathed to the
churchwardens of the parish of Biddenden, a piece of land
which is known as “Bread and Cheese Land.”
The rent of it realizes a considerable sum
of money, which is largely distributed to the poor of the
place in bread and cheese.
The memory of the wonderful women is
maintained by the distribution, on Easter Sunday, of about
a thousand small cakes made of flour and water, and having
impressed upon them rude representations of the Maids.
Hone, in his “Every Day Book,” gives a
picture of the cake he received in 1826, which we
reproduce. It is the exact size of the one sent to him.
since Hone’s time a new stamp or mould has been made, and
the old style of representing the Maids has not been
followed in every detail. In the cut we give, it will be
noticed no legs appear, now they are represented on the
In addition to the small cakes presented to
strangers as well as villagers, every resident in the
parish is entitled to a three penny loaf and three
quarters of a pound of cheese. The charity was formerly
delivered at the tower door of the church, but since some
alterations have been made in the building, the
distribution takes place at the old workhouse. The
congregation, on Easter Sunday afternoon, after which
service the cakes are given, is always very large, many
persons coming from the surrounding villages.
Halsted, the historian of Kent, discredits
the traditional origin of the old custom. A similar story
is related of two females, whose figures appear on the
pavement of Norton St. Philip’s Church, Somersetshire
Information about the Biddenden Cakes from
the - Old Church Lore by
William Andrews & Co., The Hull Press;
London, 1891; pp. 150-151
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