Archive for April, 2014

Tell me why…I don’t like Maundys


As many of you will be aware the Queen is visiting Blackburn on April 17th and whilst the visit of a reigning monarch is always special, this one is more so for one important reason. Royal Maundy.

Royal Maundy is the tradition of gifting special coins to worth citizens and are given the awards for the work they have done with their church and denominations. It is unusual as it is the only ceremony where the queen will go to the recipients, rather than them visiting her. This change in protocol reflects the history of the tradition that goes back to the middle ages. Originally the monarchs would wash the feet of beggars or gift the poor in imitation of the ways of Jesus and through using his teachings.


There is one man and one woman chosen for every year the queen has lived so there will be 172 recipients this year (88 men, 88 women) and they receive four coins. Luckily the museum has some Maundy coins to show what they would look like. The first set is from the 1980’s and the recipients in Blackburn this year can look forward to something very similar. The coins given are 1p,2p,3p and 4p denominations.Image

The other coin we have, however, is Maundy money from the reign of Queen Victoria. What makes it extra special though is what is on the back.

Those with a keen eye will be able to see the Lord’s Prayer. What you see dwarfing this 1869 example of Maundy money is a modern 5p. Which makes the workmanship on this coin even more impressive!


On Your Marks, Get Set…..BAKE!!!

Amateur bakers (myself included) rejoice! For in the archives of Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery is the key to all your baking woes in the form of ‘A Collection of Recipes’, courtesy of The Darwen Division Conservative and Unionist Association. In this charming pamphlet you’ll discover incredibly short, simple and very easy recipes for all manner of sweet and savoury treats from Queen Cakes, Rock Buns and Rice Biscuits.


And did I mention that these were all written in the 1920s?

These recipes are so easy and uncomplicated because half the ingredients obtainable for bakers nowadays weren’t nearly as readily available for those baking in 1920s Blackburn. For example a regular sponge cake made today would have around three or four eggs in the mixture, whereas those in the pamphlet often only have one, and they were all made without the help of fancy electric whisks or food processors!


Each recipe has been sent in by a member of the association and is only about four or five lines long. With no pictures, these straightforward and uncomplicated recipes are surprisingly straightforward. I know this as I tried some out for myself. I tackled D. Newbold’s Iced Chocolate Cake, Mrs Ballantyne’s Empire Biscuits and Mrs Counsell’s Rock Buns. Although I faced some challenges, such as guessing what temperature to turn my oven to, as none of the recipes provided this, the end results were all deliciously sweet, if a little dry due to the lack of egg. But by baking 1920s style, I found that these simple and straight to the point instructions made it a lot less fussy and a lot more fun!

So next time you fancy putting your oven gloves on, think back to those bakers baking in the 1920s, making the most out of the ingredients available, except maybe don’t hold back on the egg!

Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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