In some parts of Northants, Bucks

and Beds, the leading festival was Catterns (St.

Catharine’s Day), Nov. 25th — St. Catharine being

the patron saint of the spinners, to whom the lacemakers

considered themselves related. As time

went on, Catharine the Saint became confused

with Katharine the Queen — that is to say,

Katharine of Aragon (wife of Henry the Eighth)

of Kat Stitch fame, who was born on Dec. 6th,

old St. Catharine’s Day.

In some of the towns and villages the bellman

used to go round before daybreak ringing his bell and calling out:


Rise, maids, rise!

Bake your cattern pies.

Bake enough, and bake no waste,

And let the bellman have a taste.

Milton Malsor Church

Katerns Day Cake

[Cattern Cakes – (Modern Recipe)]

2 pounds bread dough

2 oz lard or butter

1 oz caraway seeds

2 oz castor sugar

1 large egg

Prepare the dough, then knead in the lard or butter, caraway seeds, sugar and egg.

When the ingredients are well mixed, divide in two, kneading one piece to fit into a 2 lb greased loaf tin.

Divide the second piece into two and knead each half to fit a 1 lb loaf tin,

then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise until the dough reaches the top of the tins.

Bake 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve sliced and buttered.


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