The Home of Gingerbread
Gingerbread has been baked and enjoyed for over 200 hundred years in Market Drayton! The first recorded mention is Roland Lateward, maltster, who built a bakery at the back of his cottage in Shropshire Street & who was baking gingerbread in 1793. It has been noted by food historian, Meg Pybus, that it was probably made earlier as there were already large stocks of ginger in High Street businesses in the 1640’s and 1680’s. Gingerbrede, the oldest cake bread in the world, arrived in this country with the Crusades. The earliest recipe dates from 1390.
In 1817 another bakery began in the corner of High Street and Church Street, which then became known as Billington’s Gingerbread.
Gingerbread Baking Champion
At the first annual Ginger and Spice Festival, Billington’s Gingerbread sponsored a ‘best gingerbread house’ baking contest.
The adults category was won by Jana Jacobson with her magnificent ‘Russian Splendor’ which took over 120 hours to make.
Billington’s original recipe has been passed down from baker to baker and has always been kept a closely-guarded secret. There were other gingerbread bakers in Market Drayton such as Griffiths and Chester’s which became Boughey & Cox. However, today, the only surviving brand still being made in the town is Billington’s Gingerbread.
Currently in its bicentennial celebratory year, it has recenlty been re-branded and can be purchased in many shops in Market Drayton, as well as an online shop here.
Rich, buttery and also famed for its ‘dunking delights’, historically the farmers’ wives and people of Market Drayton, enjoyed Billington’s celebrated gingerbread by dunking it into a glass of Port on market day.
This tradition, which is still enjoyed today, enriches the flavour of the sweet gingerbread, bringing out the spicy notes for which the biscuit is celebrated.