One of the original Directors of the Fund was Mr Robert Baddeley who died in 1794. In his Will he left a bequest to provide a Twelfth Night Cake and Punch to be enjoyed by the company in residence at Drury Lane every year on January 6th. The Fund took over the administration of this fascinating bequest in December 1821, when Baddeley's Executor transferred the £100 of 3% stock to the names of the Trustees of the Fund "for the purchase of a Twelfth Cake and Wine for ever."
The first Baddeley Cake was cut on Tuesday 6th January 1795, making the ceremony perhaps the oldest theatrical tradition still observed.
In the 18th century, Twelfth Night was a festival which was much celebrated as the end of the Christmas season. There have only been thirteen known occasions when it has not been possible to carry out the bequest because of the Theatre being closed or the ingredients for the Cake not being available during war time rationing.
In the beginning, the Manager of the Theatre was responsible for the arrangements but since 1822, Drury Lane Theatrical Fund have organized the Ceremony every year. Really Useful Group Theatres, the current Management, very kindly provide the Punch which is dispensed from a beautiful silver bowl given to the Theatre by the original 'My Fair Lady' company.
The Ceremony was for many years a private affair held in the Green Room with only company members present, but during the time that Augustus Harris ran the theatre in the 1880's and 90's the ceremony was attended by huge numbers of guests and the entertainment was lavish. Supper was served as part of the function.
In 1890, the stalls seating was removed and nearly 2,000 guests were invited. The Cake was cut on the stage. The printed programme (which included the Band of the Scots Guards), announced "Dr Onofroff, the eminent Thought Reader, will demonstrate his marvellous powers, and various Entertainments will take place in the Saloon and in the Rotunda. The Curtain will rise on the stage at 12.30". The last big occasion of this sort was in 1891. Sir Augustus was ill later that year, so in 1892 the Cake was cut during the interval in Dan Leno's dressing room with just the company present again.
Over the years there have been many different individuals and firms who have provided the Cake. In 1975, Mr Alan Barrett of Bath, became responsible for making and decorating the famous Cake. He brought a new element to Baddeley's bequest by making each Cake unique, showing a scene or a theme from the current musical with splendidly inventive ideas for each successive company over the next 34 years. Since 2010, the Cake has been generously donated by Robert and Beverly Dutton of Squire's Kitchens and created by the Squire's Kitchen team. Their ornate Cakes have been enjoyed by the Oliver! and Shrek companies and the current production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will surely give them scope for another wonderful creation.
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