The Queen’s Wedding Cake Restoration Project

Learn about our extraordinary two-year journey to restore the Peek Frean’s royal wedding cake…

The journey began in July 2015 with a phone call received at The British Sugarcraft Guild’s national office from Gary Magold, ‘keeper of the Peek Frean museum’ in Bermondsey. The royal wedding cake had been vandalised and severely damaged whilst in storage and Gary called the BSG seeking some advice and whether it was possible for the cake to be repaired or restored.

Two years later, during the week commencing 23rd October 2017, the extraordinary journey culminated at the museum as the tiers of the cake came in from each of the BSG’s regions for the final assembly and decoration of the restored cake.

The impressive six-tier cake was finally completed and assembled just in time for the royal couple’s platinum wedding anniversary celebrations on 20th November 2017.

A Brief History

In 1947, Peek Frean made one of the wedding cakes for the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. At the same time the company made a full-size replica of the cake which was proudly displayed in the reception of Peek Frean’s headquarters at the biscuit factory in Bermondsey for over 30 years, and subsequently at a museum following the closure of the company in the late 1980s. During a change over of premises in 2015, vandals gained access to the museum and destroyed the replica cake. What remained of the cake was then moved to the current museum site before The British Sugarcraft Guild came to the rescue.

Below are some photos showing the extent of the damage to this unique and historic cake.

The journey began in July 2015 with a phone call received at The British Sugarcraft Guild’s national office from Gary Magold, ‘keeper of the Peek Frean museum’ in Bermondsey. The royal wedding cake had been vandalised and severely damaged whilst in storage and Gary called the BSG seeking some advice and whether it was possible for the cake to be repaired or restored.

Two years later, during the week commencing 23rd October 2017, the extraordinary journey culminated at the museum as the tiers of the cake came in from each of the BSG’s regions for the final assembly and decoration of the restored cake.

The impressive six-tier cake was finally completed and assembled just in time for the royal couple’s platinum wedding anniversary celebrations on 20th November 2017.

A Brief History

In 1947, Peek Frean made one of the wedding cakes for the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. At the same time the company made a full-size replica of the cake which was proudly displayed in the reception of Peek Frean’s headquarters at the biscuit factory in Bermondsey for over 30 years, and subsequently at a museum following the closure of the company in the late 1980s. During a change over of premises in 2015, vandals gained access to the museum and destroyed the replica cake. What remained of the cake was then moved to the current museum site before The British Sugarcraft Guild came to the rescue.

Below are some photos showing the extent of the damage to this unique and historic cake…

Damaged Queen's Cake
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The Restoration Process

Guild members took detailed measurements and photographs of what remained of the six tiers, making careful note of the original techniques and materials used in the creation of the historic 70-year-old cake.

The original moulds to create the pictorial side panels on each tier had long been lost, so using techniques usually applied to modern engineering projects, WMG Warwick brought the latest cutting-edge laser scanning and 3D printing technology, creating the images to enable new silicone moulds to be made. This aspect of the project perfectly illustrates how modern technology and a traditional craft can work in harmony to recreate a beautiful historic work of sugar art.

Likewise, all the templates for the detailed piping work were no longer available, so Guild members created new technical drawings and templates using the measurements and photographs that had been taken. It was arranged that completion of each tier of the cake would be designated to each of six regions of The British Sugarcraft Guild – enabling as many of the Guild’s members as possible to take part in this unique and historic project. The detailed instructions along with the remains of the original tiers of the cake were passed out to the regions where workshops were arranged for members to come together and share their skills to recreate new cake tiers. View more photos and videos of these workshops on our Facebook event page

Queen's Cake Regional Workshops
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There was much media interest and the Discovery Channel, Canada filmed this short package focusing on the laser scanning and 3D printing technology used to help us recreate the royal wedding cake.

Queen's Cake Assembly
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The original solid silver top ornament of the cake was located in The Royal Collection and they very kindly allowed the exquisite figure of St George and the Dragon to be laser scanned so that an exact replica could be made. This was proudly placed on the cake top during the final assembly by a representative of WMG Warwick.

Standing at over six feet tall, the newly completed cake is housed in a bespoke wood and glass case made by a local cabinet maker in Bermondsey. The beautiful simplicity of the showcase compliments the elaborately piped decoration of the cake perfectly.

The replica of the Queen’s Wedding cake was unveiled at the Peek Frean Museum in Bermondsey by the Deputy Lieutenant for Southwark, Mrs Jenny Bianco, on 30th November 2017 at a special ceremony in the presence of the project sponsors and invited guests, including relatives of James Peek and John Carr, who ran the biscuit factory along with George Frean.

• Chris Carr whose great-great-grandfather John Carr joined the company after it was founded by Peek and Frean, shed a tear at the unveiling. Chris himself worked at the factory between 1970 and 1980. His grandfather was Chairman and his dad was the managing director; he recalled going to the factory as a child and looking up at this impressive cake in its huge display case. Of the recreation, he said: “It did overwhelm me because of people doing something for the pure love of doing it when there’s no commercial gain and to a standard of perfection, and also whenever I come back to the factory I feel a tad emotional. It’s a lovely project.”

• Amanda Davies whose great-great-grandfather was Francis Peek and great-great-great-uncle was James Peek, said she thought the replica was “absolutely wonderful”.

Queen's Cake Regional Workshops
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Queen's Cake Assembly
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Queen's Cake Unveiling
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Wow – What an Honour!

The British Sugarcraft Guild was delighted to receive notification from The Worshipful Mayor of Southwark informing us that we had been honoured in the 2018 Southwark Civic Awards for our work on the Queen’s Wedding Cake Restoration and afforded the Liberty of the Old Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey.

Award Scroll
Andrew, Frank, Gary, Carolyn, Judith, Judy, Marilyn & Jan at Southwark Cathedral

Each year these awards publicly recognise exceptional contributions of individuals and organisations to life in Southwark. A nomination had been made by a member of the public and passed through several committee stages before approval was given. The award was presented at a civic celebration on 21st May 2018. Fantastic news and an amazing achievement.

Members of The British Sugarcraft Guild should feel rightly proud of what we have all achieved together.

Queen's Cake Pictures
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With thanks to our project sponsors

Sponsorship for the project was sought from specialist suppliers who provided materials to help the BSG recreate this unique replica cake. The British Sugarcraft Guild is grateful for the tremendous support it has received from:

WMG Warwick University, Renshaw, FPC Sugarcraft, Dummies Direct, Doric Cakecrafts, Bako Northwestern, Sugar City and Insignia Signs.

Queen's cake Sponsors

Ian Rudge, the husband of one of the Guild’s members, whose hobby is woodturning, even stepped in to make the precision dowels that support the cake tiers.

View more photos & videos for The Queen’s Wedding Cake Restoration on our > Facebook Page

The members in Region 8: South East were so inspired by all the group workshops and activities, they went on to create another special cake, dedicated to Peek Frean’s, for display at the BSG Regional Exhibition held at Brighton in May 2019.

Read more about that special project HERE

 


Read the special FEATURE ARTICLE about the Queen’s Cake Restoration Project, by Katherine Waters, published on the Atlas Obscura website. (25.02.2020)

Queen's Cake Pictures
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With thanks to our project sponsors

Sponsorship for the project was sought from specialist suppliers who provided materials to help the BSG recreate this unique replica cake. The British Sugarcraft Guild is grateful for the tremendous support it has received from:

WMG Warwick University, Renshaw, FPC Sugarcraft, Dummies Direct, Doric Cakecrafts, Bako Northwestern, Sugar City and Insignia Signs.

Queen's cake Sponsors

Ian Rudge, the husband of one of the Guild’s members, whose hobby is woodturning, even stepped in to make the precision dowels that support the cake tiers.

View more photos & videos for The Queen’s Wedding Cake Restoration on our > Facebook Page

The members in Region 8: South East were so inspired by all the group workshops and activities, they went on to create another special cake, dedicated to Peek Frean’s, for display at the BSG Regional Exhibition held at Brighton in May 2019.

Read more about that special project HERE

 


Read the special FEATURE ARTICLE about the Queen’s Cake Restoration Project, by Katherine Waters, published on the Atlas Obscura website. (25.02.2020)

Click to listen to the podcast!

by America's Test Kitchen | The Reconstruction of A Royal Wedding Cake

https://www.americastestkitchen.com/proof/royal-cake

Let’s take a closer look at the restored cake…

• Top ornament: A six-inch model of St.George and the Dragon. On the original cake presented for the Royal Wedding, the ornament was solid silver. This is now kept in The Royal Collection.

• Top tier: The modelling of the centre plaque depicts a motor torpedo boats as used by the Sea Rangers in which Princess Elizabeth served, and on either side of it is the Sea Rangers’ badge. Decorated with hand-moulded sugar flowers and piped trellis sections.

• Second tier: This tier depicts Dartmouth Naval College at which The Duke Of Edinburgh received his naval training. On either side is a sugar plaque of the Naval Crown. The decoration all follows a nautical theme, including piped elevated flanges featuring a lifebuoy ring.

• Third tier: The side plaques on this tier are of St.George’s Chapel at Windsor. The badges on each side are the Windsor Coat of Arms. This tier is decorated with Oak leaves and Acorns and surrounded by piped trees with the initials E and P beneath.

• Fourth tier: This tier depicts the new Coat of Arms of Princess Elizabeth. The tier is completed with columns around each side. Beneath this tier are piped trellis sections with entwined ivy, cornucopia, and wheatsheaves.

• Fifth tier: The plaques on this tier depict HMS Vanguard lying off Table Mountain on the occasion of the Royal tour of South Africa in 1947. The smaller plaques on each side depict the Vanguard badge. The decoration continues the nautical theme with ropes and anchors.

• Sixth, bottom tier: The modelled plaques on this tier depict Glamis Castle, the seat of the Earl of Strathmore. The side plaques are the appropriate modellings of the Strathmore Coat of Arms, decorated with heather and hundreds of piped sugar blossoms.

The cake sits on the original oak base and is contained within a bespoke wood and glass case.

Here’s Gary Magold, manager of the Peek Frean’s museum, speaking to Southwark News about the restoration…

For further information about The Queen’s Wedding Cake Restoration Project, please contact:

• Judy Banks or Judith Lynn via BSG National Office

For information about the Peek Frean Museum or to arrange a visit, contact Gary Magold

The Peek Frean museum is located at The Biscuit Factory, 100 Drummond Road, Bermondsey, London SE16 4DG