a

 

A SHORT AND CONCISE ACCOUNT OF


ELIZA AND MARY CHULKHURST,

 

Who were born joined together by the Hips and Shoulders,

 

IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, 1100,

 

At BIDDENDEN in the County of KENT,

 

COMMONLY CALLED

 

Original Broadside

 

THE BIDDENDEN MAIDS

 

THE READER will observe by the plate of them, that they lived together in the above state Thirty-four years, at the expiration of which time one of them was taken ill and in a short time died; the servicing one was advised to be separated from the body of her deceased Sister by dissection, but she absolutely refused the separation by saying these words---"As we came together we will also go together,"---and in the space of about Six Hours after her Sister's decease she was taken ill and died also.

 

By their will they bequeath to the Churchwardens of the Parish of Biddenden and their successors Churchwardens for ever, certain Pieces or Parcels of Land in the Parish of Biddenden, containing Twenty Acres more or less, which now let at 40 Guineas per annum. There are usually made, in commemoration of these wonderful Phenomena of Nature, about 1000 Rolls with their Impression printed on them, and given away to all strangers on Easter Sunday after Divine Service in the Afternoon; also about 500 Quarten Loaves and Cheese in proportion, to all the poor Inhabitants of the said Parish.

 

Information from the Original Broadside pictured above

 


 

 

Circa 1930 Postcard - E & M CHULKHURST SIAMESE TWINS


 

 


BIDDENDEN CAKE

 

 

 

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 cakes.

 

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;

William Andrews & Co., The Hull Press; London, 1891; pp. 150-151

 


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