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The Keep Military Museum is full of interesting and sometimes surprising items. This week our Mystery Object was difficult to guess and is a part of the collection that is often missed. Hidden among the Museum’s Boer War display, if you look closely, you will find a 116 year old piece of sponge cake! (No.14).

The story behind this remarkable object is limited, but it is supposed to have been a piece of a cake sent to troops in South Africa during the Boer War by Queen Victoria. There are few other known examples such as this.

In 1900 Queen Victoria famously gifted tins of chocolate to her troops serving in South Africa as a token of Royal esteem. Three firms of sweet makers, Fry’s,  Cadbury’s and Rowntree’s were asked to produce 123,000 chocolate tins, a commission which caused the mainly Quaker – and therefore pacifist – companies some qualms!

Being a gift from the Queen, many soldiers  preserved the tins, sometimes even keeping the chocolate intact. (See 1st photograph for an example of the Museum’s intact chocolate tin on display (No.15).


‘A gift tin for New Year 1900, given to 3233 Private E W Morris, Dorsetshire Regiment’ 1977/23

Do you know of another Boer War cake? Let us know so we can add to the history.