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 2011, Alastair Hawken, 37, discovered the problem. Within months the biscuit was again being produced and sold in the town. When various articles, television and radio broadcasts were made, a gentleman came forward and made himself known to Alastair. His name was John Oldham, the Great, Great, Great nephew of William Eggleston.