Goosemire Cottages Blog

Grasmere Gingerbread

Date: 5th March 2012
Filed under: Top Tips, Uncategorized
Tagged: grasmere, grasmere gingerbread

The humble Ginger Nut is an often over looked biscuit living out its days in the bottom of the biscuit barrel, however Grasmere Gingerbread (a cross between a biscuit and a cake) is truly immense! As I sit writing this blog all I can think of is popping downstairs to the kitchen to try another slice....hardly surprising as it is acknowledged by food critics as "the best gingerbread in the world".

Sarah Nelson, the creator of Grasmere Gingerbread, is arguably Grasmere’s most famous daughter. Born in Bowness in 1815, she went into service and eventually became a cook in a gentleman’s house in Patterdale, overlooking Ullswater - the Lake District’s second largest lake. Later in the kitchens at Dale Lodge, home to Lady Marie Farquhar of Grasmere, Sarah was inspired to invent her world famous gingerbread, and its reputation amongst villagers, local gentry and travellers grew quickly. In 1854 Sarah moved into a former school house adjoining St Oswald’s churchyard with her husband and two daughters.

Despite her culinary success, life remained hard for Sarah. Sadly she was widowed in 1880, and later tuberculoisis claimed the lives of her two daughters. After the death of her husband Wilfred, Anne Kemp her half sister, moved in to help run the business. Demand grew as many Victorian travellers who had made the pilgrimage to Wordsworth’s grave, just a few yards from where Sarah lived and worked, were drawn by the irresistable aroma of the gingerbread being made. During the final months of Sarah’s life her great niece Agnes German came to care for her. Sarah passed away peacefully in 1904.

Sarah’s legacy still lives on to this day. Today the shop is managed by Joanne Wilson, whose parents Gerald and Margaret bought the business from her Great Aunt Mary, who ran it with her husband Jack and their previous partner Daisy Hotson, who in turn aquired it from Agnes German.

Joanne’s husband Andrew is now the guardian of the secret receipe for Grasmere Gingerbread - Sarah Nelson’s original scribblings are hidden safely away in a bank vault. Andrew mixes and bakes the unbelievably moreish gingerbread each day (im still thinking about having a second piece).

Today the Sarah Nelson phenomenon is truly global with a worldwide reputation, and I have personally had to send it to a Cousin who teaches in Sri Lanka, as she would always pester me for it.  However now no matter where you are in the world you can now buy the gingerbread online at as well as their delicious homemade traditional Cumberland Rum Butter which won Gold in the Great Taste Awards.

If you are looking for a self catering cottage in Grasmere then Helm Crag is a short walk from the village, tucked into the fellside above William Wordsworth’s former home -Dove Cottage. Helm Crag has a fantastic view of Grasmere Lake from the large picture window.