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The Queen's Wedding Cake Restoration Project

Learn about the BSG's extraordinary two-year journey to restore Peek Frean's Royal Wedding Cake...

Queen's Cake

The unveiling of the restored wedding cake at the Peek Frean Museum will forever remain one of the high points in the history of the British Sugarcraft Guild.

Coordinating this unique project involving hundreds of volunteer members, from around the UK and beyond, was a huge undertaking. Witnessing all the work coming together after two years and seeing the cake standing proud once again in its beautiful display case was quite overwhelming; to then receive a civic award for the project really was the icing on the cake!  

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Here at Sugarcraft North, we are proud that so many members

from around the England North

area enjoyed taking part in the restoration, and not least that our own area team members: Judy Banks, Judith Lynn, and Andrew Hill, had such leading roles in bringing the project to fruition. 

The completed new replica in its showcas

The journey began one afternoon in July 2015 when Andrew, the BSG's national office administrator at that time, answered a call from Gary Magold, keeper of the Peek Frean Museum in Bermondsey. Gary explained that their replica of the royal wedding cake had been vandalised and severely damaged whilst it was in museum storage and was calling to ask for advice and to enquire if it might be possible for the historic cake to be repaired or restored.

Andrew forwarded the enquiry to the Guild's national committee where Judy steered the proposal through committee discussions; two years later, during the week commencing 23rd October 2017, the extraordinary journey culminated at the museum as the tiers of the cake came in from the BSG's regions for the final assembly and decoration of the restored cake.

The impressive six-tier cake was finally completed and assembled just in time for the royal couple's Platinum wedding anniversary celebrations on 20th November 2017.

A Brief History

In 1947, Peek Frean made one of the wedding cakes for the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. At the same time, the company made an exact full-sized replica of the cake which was proudly displayed in the reception of Peek Frean's headquarters at the Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey for over 30 years, and subsequently as part of a museum display dedicated to the history of the company, following the closure of the business in the late 1980's. During a change over of museum premises in 2015, vandals gained access to the museum and destroyed the replica cake whilst it was still waiting to be relocated. What remained was then moved to the current museum site before Sugarcraft Guild members came to the rescue...

These photos show the extent of the damage to the historic cake.

The Restoration Process

Detailed measurements and photographs were taken of what remained of the six tiers, making careful note of the original techniques and materials used in the creation of the historic 70-year-old cake.

 

The original moulds used to create the pictorial side panels on each tier had long since been lost, so using techniques usually applied to modern engineering projects, WMG Warwick brought the latest innovative laser scanning and 3D printing technology, creating the images to enable new silicone moulds to be made. This aspect of the project perfectly illustrates how modern technology, and a traditional craft can work in harmony to recreate a beautiful historic work of sugar art.

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Laser scanning
3D scan image
Silicone mould from the 3D print

Likewise, all the templates for the detailed piping work were no longer available, so Guild members created new technical drawings and templates using the measurements and photographs that had been taken.

It was arranged that completion of each tier of the cake would be designated to each of the six regions of the British Sugarcraft Guild - enabling as many of the Guild's members as possible to contribute towards and take part in this unique and historic project. The detailed instructions along with any remains of the original tiers of the cake were passed out to the regions where workshops were arranged for members to come together and share their skills to recreate new cake tiers.

Final Assembly

The six tiers, along with all the off pieces came together at the museum for final assembly during October 2017.

Over around three days, the small assembly team carefully stacked each of the tiers of the cake using the special pillars, ensuring each tier was level and correctly orientated. Once the six tiers were correctly assembled, the off-piece decorations were carefully added, starting from the top tier, and working down. Miraculously, there were no breakages, although lots of extra pieces had been made - just in case!

Once all the decoration was in place, Gary was invited to add his own royal icing piped blossom as a finishing touch before the sides of the bespoke cabinet were lifted into place and the lid secured.

Standing at over six feet tall, the newly completed cake is housed in a bespoke wooden and glass case crafted by a local cabinet maker in Bermondsey. The beautiful simplicity of the new show case compliments the elaborately piped decoration of the cake perfectly.