- Museum number
Plaque; lead-glazed earthenware; red ware; glaze mottled with manganese; ornamented with the two maids of Biddenden in relief with legend.
- Production date
- late 18thC - early 19thC
Length: 3.70 inches
- Curator's comments
- This plaque refers to the legend of the Chulkhurst sisters, Elisabeth and Mary, who were allegedly born joined together at the shoulders and hips, at Biddenden, Kent, and lived to the age of 34 when they died within six hours of each other in 1100. The story seems to have arisen in the late 18th century and continued into the 19th century, prompting the making of cakes stamped with the two maids for sale at Biddenden. This plaque appears to have been made from the mould used for cakes.
For further discussion, see Jan Bondeson, 'The Biddenden Maids: a curious chapter in the history of conjoined twins', Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, London: Royal Society of Medicine Press, 85 (4), April 1992, pp. 217–221.
See also the account of the Biddenden biscuits held by the Pitt Rivers Museum, with furhter literature: https://england.prm.ox.ac.uk/englishness-imaging-biddenden-maids.html
An account of the sisters published in 1808 with illustration of the two women is held by the Welcome Collection, see https://wellcomecollection.org/works/vmgv4t7d/items
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number