Preserved Victorian Wedding Cake
Baked in 1898 and still almost flawless, this floral masterpiece is considered the world's oldest complete wedding cake.
It is rare that a wedding cake survives the wedding itself, but an elaborate four-tiered wedding cake has remained uncut since it was made in 1898.
The confection was made soon after Charles H. Philpott and his wife opened their family bakery—C.H. Philpott, Baker and Confectioner—in Basingstoke. For 66 years after the bakery’s opening, the Philpotts displayed the cake in the shop window, before moving it to their home in 1964 after the bakery closed. In 1995, almost a century after it was first baked and displayed, the Philpotts’ daughter donated the antique cake to the local Willis Museum.
After surviving six monarchs and lasting through two different millennia, the cake bears the scars of time. In 1940, during the Second World War, the town of Basingstoke was bombed. The town center, in which the bakery was located, was hit by a bomb in August of that year. This impact caused a great deal of damage, and yet the seemingly fragile wedding cake, already approaching half a century old at the time, sustained but a single crack. This crack remains the cake’s single imperfection, but for the discoloration that has come with age and sugar seeping from the rich cake into the previously white icing.
In conservation tests by the museum team following the donation, it was found that the cake remained moist inside, even after more than a century. While this is an impressive example of enduring quality, the museum team needed to take efforts to dry the cake with silica gel to prevent it from growing more fragile in the future. The cake was then injected with a glue-like substance to strengthen it overall. The cake is now on display in the museum, under constant monitoring to ensure it stays intact.
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