Friday, January 9, 2015

The Baddeley Cake

Still in the holiday mood, I looked into another new year's tradition and found THE BADDELEY CAKE! And what is this, you say?
Well, here is the story:

In old London town, one of the original directors of the famed Drury Lane Theatre died in 1794. His name, Robert Baddeley. He was an actor, and had worked as a cook and valet, though little else is known about him. In his Will, he left a bequest to provide a Twelfth Night Cake and Punch to be enjoyed by the actors in residence at the Drury every year on January 6th!

A Fund was established for the "purchase of the cake and wine for ever." The first cake was cut on January 6th, 1795, making this the oldest theatrical tradition still in existence! The cutting of the special cake is a big event to this day.

Robert had become an actor having been inspired by his employer, actor Samuel Foote. Robert spent three years on a Grand Tour, which allowed him to develop accents and learn languages that helped with his acting. These accents became a hallmark of his career. One of his famous roles was in The School for Scandal, a melodramatic work by Sheridan. By the way, Robert's wife Sophia, was also a noted actor, and later on, others of the Baddeley clan took to the stage, including Hermione Baddeley (Mary Poppins, Little House on the Praire, Maude).

Over the years, the cake has become more and more famous for its unique annual theme. Sometimes, it displays the theme of the play that is appearing at the Drury. Only a few times, the cake was not presented, one being during WWII when the theatre was closed, and the ingredients were not available because of rationing.  The punch, in recent years, has been served from a lovely silver bowl given to the theatre by the original My Fair Lady company!

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