When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were married on the 10th of February 1840, their wedding was going to be nothing short of a great sceptical – and their cake was no different.
Their circular cake weighed 300 pounds and had a circumference of about 3 metres. At its highest point it was decorated with figures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert dressed in ancient Greek costume, and was ornamented with orange blossom and sprigs of myrtle entwined together. The cake was served at a wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace. Despite its massive size, more than one cake was baked for the wedding as pieces were to be distributed to many, many people.
It is probably due to this that, incredibly, a piece of the cake and its packaging has survived to this day. The cake, exhibited some years ago at Windsor Castle, has recently fetched £1,500 pounds at auction. Its presentation box, inscribed with “The Queen’s Bridal Cake Buckingham Palace, Feby 10, 1840”, was also sold with the cake, along with Queen Victoria’s signature on its papers.
Surprisingly, many wedding cakes over the last few decades and centuries have survived, with cake from brides such as Princess Louise in 1871, Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and Princess Diana in 1981 all surviving to today.
Queen Victoria’s Privy Council dress and removable white cotton embroidered collar (see detail), worn on the day of her accession on the 20th June 1837. Originally black (because Victoria would have been in morning for her now dead uncle King William IV), over time the silk dress has now faded to this strange brown colour. The dress has been repeatedly recreated for film and television, in screen portrays such as The Young Victoria and Victoria (see below)
1 ¼ lump sugar 3 ½ oz ginger well pounded. The peel of 1 lemon cut very thin. Put them into a pitcher then add eleven pints of boiling water. Stir the whole then cover it up – when cooled till only milk warm put 2 spoonful of yeast on a piece of toast hot from the fire add the juice of the lemon – let it work for 12 hours. Strain into a muslin and bottle it – it will be fit to drink in 4 days.
10 oz white sugar
scant ½ oz ground ginger
peel and juice of ½ a lemon
5 ½ pts boiling water
small slice of bread
1 tsp of fresh yeast (or dried yeast, make into a paste)
Put the sugar, ginger and lemon peel into a large, heat proof container (you can use a bucket). Pour on the boiling water and stir well. Leave until lukewarm, and then toast the bread. Spread it with the yeast and pop it into the ginger mix along with the lemon juice. Stir briefly and leave overnight. Strain several times through muslin and bottle. Leave for 4 days before drinking.
The entry in Mrs Crocombe’s book notes that this recipe was copied from ‘The Field’ newspaper, courtesy of Lady Braybrook (her employer) – a tantalizing glimpse at employer-employee relations at this time.
Amazing photograph of Queen Victoria’s wedding veil and preserved wreath of orange blossom flowers, worn by Victoria during her wedding ceremony to Prince Albert on the 10th February 1840. This photograph is amazing because Victoria was buried wearing the veil, so it hasn’t been seen for over a century.
Queen Victoria’s ‘White bonnet trimmed with orange flowers’ that she wore on her wedding day, with a white silk gown she had changed into after the wedding breakfast, as she travelled to Windsor Castle from Buckingham palace. You may have seen the bonnet recreated in the TV show Victoria on Jenna Coleman (see below) . Since this photograph is Victorian and I’ve found no record of the bonnet since then I can only assume it hasn’t survived.