Biddenden Easter Cakes & The Conjoined Chulkhurst Twins


The small town of Biddenden, in Kent, which is about four miles from Tenterden, is famous for a custom of giving to the parishioners, and even strangers, on Easter Sunday, 1000 cakes, impressed with the figure of two females joined together. The origin of the custom is thus related.

In the year 1100, at Biddenden, in Kent, were born Elisabeth and Mary Chulkhurst, joined together by the hips and shoulders, and who lived in that state Thirty-four Years !! at the expiration of which time, one of them was taken ill, and after a short period, died; the surviving one was advised to be separated from the corpse, which she absolutely refused, by saying those words, “as we came together, we will also go together,” and about six hours alter her sister’s decease, she was taken ill and died also. A stone near the rector’s pew, marked with a diagonal line, is shewn as the place of their interment.

In Old English Characters.

The moon on the East oriel shone, through slender shafts of

shapely stone,

The silver light, so pale and faint, shewed the twin sisters

and many a saint,

Whose images on the glass were dyed; mysterious maidens

side by side.

The moon-beam kissed the holy pane, and threw on the

pavement a mystic stain.

It is further stated, that by their will, they bequeathed to the churchwardens of the parish of Biddenden, and their successors, for ever, certain pieces or parcels of land in the parish, containing about 20 acres, which is hired at 40 guineas per annum; and that in commemoration of this wonderful phenomenon of nature, the rolls, and about 300 quartern loaves, and cheese in proportion, should be given to the poor inhahitants of the parish.

Source: The etymological compendium, or, Portfolio of origins and inventions, T. Tegg, 1830

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