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Biddenden Maids cake and newspaper cutting, England, 1801-1900

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The Biddenden maids, Elisa and Mary Chulkhurst (1100-1134), were conjoined twins named after their home town of Biddenden, in Kent, England. They lived for 34 years joined at their hips and shoulders until they died, six hours apart. The twins are said to have left land to the Church, the rental income from which was to be used to purchase food for the poor to be distributed on Easter Sunday. Souvenir cakes made from plaster and bearing their image were also distributed. Today, cakes are distributed to the elderly on Easter Monday. The items are shown here with Biddenden bread casts (A203659).

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Glossary: cast

Use for sculptural works or reproductions made by casting. In industrial and building trade contexts, prefer "castings."

Glossary: newspaper cutting

Illustrations, pages, articles, or columns of text removed from books, newspapers, journals, or other printed sources.

Glossary: conjoined twins

Identical twins physically joined together at birth, formerly known as ‘Siamese’ twins. The location of the join can vary. Where possible, conjoined twins are often now separated through surgery.