To understand the history of Grantham Gingerbread we must go back a very long time to the early 1700's.
There was a gentleman called John Eggleston. He lived in Newark where he opened a bakers shop in the Market place. He ran a successful business that was extremely popular in the local area. He had three sons, the eldest, William went off to become a soldier. Soon after he was reported dead and the family mourned his loss for six months. However one Sunday morning William arrived in Newark just as his father and mother were going to Church. In the days where getting in touch was not as easy as it is today, is is clear that his death had clearly been miscommunicated. William moved to Grantham and set up his own bakery. The year was 1740.
During the old coaching days, Grantham was one of the stopping places of the Royal Mail Coach on the Great North Road. While the horses were being changed at the George Hotel, passengers would invariably purchase a supply of Grantham Whetstones, a flat hard biscuit which were the first form of biscuits ever offered for sale. Grantham gingerbread arose as a result of a 'mistake' in 1740. William accidentally mistook one ingredient for another, resulting in a small white domed biscuit with a honeycombed centre and a delicate ginger flavour. A mistake which was so much enjoyed the biscuit soon became very popular and William travelled extensively selling the biscuit which soon became known as Grantham Gingerbread.
Until the 1970's Grantham Gingerbread continued to be sold throughout the town by the many bakery shops. Each baker claimed to have 'the original' recipe for the biscuit, and whilst the various versions of the recipe were all very similar, no one could actually be sure that they were using the actual recipe of William Eggleston or simply a descendant of it. Every bakery and convenience store within the town was proud all the same to have a jar of Grantham Gingerbread on its counter selling these glorious biscuits by the bag full.
Sadly as the number of bakeries within the town began to dwindle as the supermarkets thrived, the number of outlets selling Grantham Gingerbread on their counter tops fell in number. By the turn of the century Grantham Gingerbread was no longer being sold within the town. An entire generation of Grantham children were, for the first time in over 250 years, growing up in the town not knowing or enjoying Grantham Gingerbread.
In 2009, Alastair Hawken, 37, discovered the problem. Within months the biscuit was again being produced and sold in the town.
Alastair says "I have been a food fanatic all of my life. I love food. I love great food more so which is why for many years now I have been passionately involved in businesses in the food industry, crafting stunning food that simply excites the taste buds
I am a Grantham Gingerbread, a nick name given to all people born and raised in this fantastic town. I was born, raised and schooled in Grantham and I am now proud to still live here with my own scrummy family.
It was in 2011 that I rediscovered Grantham Gingerbread. This amazing biscuit was first made in the town way back in 1740. Grantham Gingerbread is unique and quite simply a gorgeous little biscuit but for some years had not been made commercially. This was a great shame and something I felt had to be addressed. Eventually after months of research, testing, patience, long days and late nights, we achieved our goal ! The results are now available for the world to see and taste."