Baddeley Cake: a happy tradition for Twelfth Night

A festive tradition set up by the first Moses in ‘The School for Scandal’

A happy new year! I have just come across the information in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography that the Drury Lane Theatre has for 200 years celebrated this day, 5 January, with cake and wine thanks to the generosity of Robert Baddeley, the first Moses in The School for Scandal. According to the entry, ‘Baddeley… created a small trust whereby every 5 January the Drury Lane company, still in their costumes, receive a glass of punch and slice of cake, known as the ‘Baddeley Cake’. This tradition was still being maintained at the close of the twentieth century.’ Has it survived into the twenty-first? I very much hope so – I’m sure the actors deserve it! The tradition was referred to by Dickens in his Dictionary of London of 1879.

You can see a painting of Baddeley in role as Moses at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool – and online, with helpful notes. He certainly looks a genial soul!