The Origins of Eccles Cakes

Although no one can be certain of the date that Eccles Cakes were first manufactured, it is clear their history stretches back over three centuries. Historians are fairly certain that the origins of these pastries can be traced to the town of Eccles, formerly within the Lancashire boundary, but now a suburb of Manchester.

Lancashire Eccles Cakes Picture
Samuel Edmonds, Grandfather of Ian,
pictured in 1929 with his
Model T Ford delivery van.

The word “Eccles” means ‘church’ and is a derivative of the Greek ‘Ecclesia’, which means an assembly. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the town takes its name from the old church, constructed in 1111 A.D., around which it grew.

Each year during the passing centuries a Service was held at the church to celebrate its construction. This became known as the “Eccles Wakes” and was followed by a fair where food and drink could be purchased in abundance, including the ever popular Eccles Cake.

When Oliver Cromwell gained power in 1650 A.D., both the wakes and the eating of Eccles Cakes were banned due to the Puritan belief that they both had pagan connections. On the other hand, maybe the powers that be in London, did not want their Northern subjects to have too much of a good thing!

On visiting the town of Eccles it would have been a difficult task to miss the bakery, which claims to have made Eccles Cakes for hundreds of years. The great English novelist, Arnold Bennett, once called this shop ‘The most romantic shop in the world’, unfortunately, this shop has now been demolished.