Bakewell Pudding - the truth behind the myth
This is the story of the Bakewell Pudding, told by surviving family member Paul Hudson - the great-great-great-grandson of Mrs Ann Greaves, who, together with a member of her staff at The Rutland Arms Hotel, was responsible for the creation of the first Bakewell Pudding in the mid-1800s.
In 1803 James Hudson, with his wife, Ann (nee Summers, born in Swanwick) and two daughters, moved to Bakewell from Cromford. James had been asked by the Duke of Rutland to oversee the pulling down of the White Horse Inn and to get the Rutland Arms Inn, which was built in roughly the same spot, ready for opening in 1804. He also farmed the 1,000 acres at Haddon Hall Farm.
In 1804 Ann Hudson gave birth to a son, James, at the inn who grew up to become the Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society under Sir Humphry Davy, and later Secretary of the Royal Agricultural Society in London.
In April 1805 James Hudson, the innkeeper, died at the age of 29 and was buried in Bakewell churchyard alongside the south door of the church.
His gravestone is still there and reads “Here Lies interred the Body of JAMES HUDSON, Of the Rutland Arms Inn, Who died 19thApril 1805, In the 29 Year of his Age. He was an affectionate Husband, a tender Father, a sincere Friend, And died regretted by a numerous Acquaintance”.
The licence of the inn was swiftly transferred to Ann Hudson to allow her to continue the business.
Little more than six months later Ann married one of her late husband’s friends, William Greaves, a plumber and glazier. Ann initially had to show William the ropes but he soon stepped into the role of innkeeper. In 1806 Ann Greaves gave birth to a son, William, known within the family as Billy. Billy Greaves was born in the Rutland Arms and he died there in 1894.
Ann Greaves’ second husband, William, died in 1831 and Ann again took over the licence of the Rutland Arms and held it until she retired to Manchester in 1857 at the age of 80. From 1845 until 1857 Billy Greaves and his wife, Mary, sister of Lady Sarah Paxton, were the proprietors of the Old Bath Royal Hotel and Posting House in Matlock Bath. They returned to Bakewell to run the Rutland when his mother, Ann Greaves, retired.
The Birth of the Pud
The other partner in the creation of the Bakewell Pudding was Ann Wheeldon who was born into a farming family in Bonsall in 1833. In the 1851 census she was a 17 year old house servant working for a doctor at Matlock Bridge. Sometime after 1851 Ann Wheeldon moved to the Rutland Arms in Bakewell where she worked as a waitress. Therefore it was sometime between 1851 and 1857, when Mrs Greaves retired, that the original Bakewell Pudding was created.
Ann Wheeldon, who had been called in to the kitchen from her post as a waitress, made a mistake with the recipe, the customers enjoyed the different taste, Mrs Greaves made a note of the new ingredients and the rest is history. Ann Wheeldon later had an illegitimate daughter with Billy Greaves, but that is another story! She married a farmer and lived in Bonsall until she died at the age of 76.
Ann Greaves died in Manchester in 1866 aged 88. The Greaves family gravestone in Bakewell churchyard is also close to the south door and reads “Here lie the remains of William Greaves of the Rutland Arms Hotel, who died XXI December MDCCCXXXI aged LX years. Ann relict of the above died XI July MDCCCLXVI Aged LXXXIX (although her death certificate shows her age at death as 88!) and was interred at St John’s Church, Longsight, Manchester on the XVI”
A version of the Bakewell Pudding recipe reached the Wilson family and they produced puddings at their premises in Rutland Square for many years although in 1935 their advert in a local concert programme read “W. Wilson, The Square, Bakewell. For Xmas Cakes and Pork Pies”. Formerly known as Ye Olde Bakewell Pudding Shoppe their original premises are now known as The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.
Another local story is that the secret recipe for the Bakewell Pudding was left by Mrs Greaves in her will to a Mr Radford who then passed the recipe on to Mr Bloomer. This claim is disproved by the simple fact that when Mrs Greaves retired and moved to live with her daughter in Manchester at the age of 80 years old in 1857, the Mr Radford in question was aged 5, and when Ann died in 1866 he was still only 15 years old.
However, Mr Bloomer did get his recipe when Will Hudson, the licensee of the Castle & Commercial Hotel in Bridge Street gave his very good friend, George Bloomer, a copy of the original recipe of the Bakewell Pudding in order to “even things out” in the town! As a thank-you for his gift of the recipe Will was rewarded with a loaf of bread from Bloomers Shop in Matlock Street every day for the rest of his life! A very generous gift, as Will Hudson lived until 1953 and was aged 88 when he died. "
Mrs Ann Greaves, who created the first Bakewell Pudding in the kitchens of The Rutland Arms all those years ago was my great-great-great-grandmother and Will Hudson, mentioned above, was my grandfather. The original pudding dishes used by Mrs Greaves on that day in the 1850's have been passed down within the family and are held safely in the possession of one of my cousins.
The story of the making of the first Bakewell Pudding as published on this page has been gathered from tales passed down through the Hudson/Greaves family as far back as Mrs Ann Greaves herself.
Most of these have been confirmed through all the extensive research done by me and collated from many other members of the family. At a large family get-together held at The Rutland Arms Hotel over one weekend in April 2011, over 120 relatives attended out of a world-wide total of 320 plus, and counting. I have even spoken to direct descendants of Ann Wheeldon, the waitress who assisted in the making of the first Bakewell Pudding.
So many search engines hold the false and misleading information and claim that the first Bakewell Pudding was made by a Mrs Graves at The White Horse Inn in 1820 or in 1860 and it just keeps getting copied and recopied from entry to entry until everyone believes it is true! It is wrong and should be corrected.
All the facts shown in the story above have been confirmed from Parish Records, Census Records or from the General Register Office where information can be obtained on Births, Marriages and Deaths. Those records are open for anyone to search. The answers are there!
My latest booklet "Mrs Ann Greaves of the Rutland Arms and the Bakewell Pudding" tells the full story of the creation of the first Bakewell Pudding in the 1850's and contains a previously unseen photograph of Ann Wheeldon, the waitress who assisted Mrs Greaves in the kitchens on that memorable day, and a portrait of Billy Greaves, with whom the waitress had an illegitimate daughter.
This was not the only illegitimate child to be born during Billy Greaves' 86 years association with The Rutland Arms. This booklet, together with two other books I have written about the history of Bakewell and its inhabitants, are available on http://nicwhe8.freehostia.com/pynot/history/ann-greaves/ann-greaves.html
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015