170th Anniversary


Victorian cook Sarah Nelson invents Grasmere Gingerbread®.

She sells it to passers-by from a tree stump outside her Church Cottage home in Grasmere. Ginger is plentiful as it is imported into Whitehaven harbour via the international spice trade. Sarah protects her unique recipe with a special trademark which is still the distinctive logo of Grasmere Gingerbread®.


Grasmere Gingerbread® is now an established culinary sensation.

Wealthy tourists travel to the Lake District by steam train and arrive in Grasmere by four-in-hand coaches to buy Sarah Nelson’s mouth-watering culinary delicacy. Grasmere Gingerbread® is now synonymous with the village from which it takes its name.


Personal tragedy strikes.

Sarah Nelson’s 18-year-old daughter Dinah dies from tuberculosis, followed by her sister Mary Ann a year later from the same disease. Sarah channels her grief into work and teaches local children the alphabet using Grasmere Gingerbread® letters.


Sarah’s husband Wilfred dies.

After Sarah is widowed, her sister Ann moves into Church Cottage to help make and bake Grasmere Gingerbread® but when she passes away four years later Sarah is once again on her own.


Sarah Nelson dies from ‘exhaustion’ aged 88.

A legend in her own lifetime and a role model for working class women seeking to improve their lives, she is buried in St Oswald’s Churchyard, Grasmere.

Fortunately, Grasmere Gingerbread® lives on as Sarah’s nieces - the German sisters - inherit the business. Already established bakers and confectioners in their own right, they increase production of Grasmere Gingerbread® to meet growing demand.


The German sisters take business indoors.

For the first time in its history, Grasmere Gingerbread® - as well as spices and other general groceries - are sold from inside Church Cottage. It formally becomes known as The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop - famous for its tiny six foot square interior.


The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop gets busier.

Popular for ferrying parties of people on ‘work outings’ from the factories, mills and mines of the north west, horse-drawn and motorised charabancs become a familiar sight parked outside The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.


More and more holidaymakers visit The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

The Co-operative Holiday Association and Holiday Fellowship pioneer ‘reasonably priced accommodation’ for working-class and lower middle-class people to enjoy ‘friendship and fellowship amid the beauty’ of the Lake District.


Grasmere Gingerbread® changes hands.

Local villager Daisy Hotson buys the business from the German sisters, securing its future.


Wartime food and ingredient shortages force Grasmere Gingerbread® to adapt.

As German U-boats sink large numbers of British merchant ships, Grasmere Gingerbread® is kept on the shelves by substituting butter with margarine while grated carrot mimics the sweetness of sugar.


A new deal.

Daisy Hotson enters into a partnership with Jack and Mary Wilson to run The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.


The post-war economic boom boosts business.

As Britain is told it has ‘never had it so good’, Grasmere Gingerbread® begins a mail order service. Soon, it is delivering freshly baked packets of its spicy-sweet cross between a biscuit a cake to customers across the UK. It has since been sent to over 80 countries.


The word spreads.

Throughout the 1950s Grasmere Gingerbread® appears in numerous local and regional newspapers and magazines, further helping to spread the word about Sarah Nelson’s incredible culinary invention.


A new broom.

Hey Jude by The Beatles is Number One as Margaret and Gerald Wilson take over The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop with three young children in tow.


In the news.

The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop features in many national newspapers and magazines which are bought by millions of readers.


Cumbria gets a new motorway.

Grasmere Gingerbread® reaches more people than ever before as the opening of the M6 motorway in Cumbria - the first in the country - brings millions of extra tourists to the Lake District and Grasmere by car and coach throughout the year.


Grasmere Gingerbread® is now a household name.

Throughout the 1970s large circulation tourist guides feature Grasmere Gingerbread®. Radio shows such as Down Your Way broadcast directly to listeners from the shop which is now a household name.


A special delivery to the Falklands.

Grasmere Gingerbread® is air dropped to British troops onto the Falklands Islands.


The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop has new opening hours.

For the first time in its history The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop opens its doors to customers throughout the year. Its historic trading season has been Easter to October.


Grasmere Gingerbread® on the television.

Throughout the 1980s, Grasmere Gingerbread® and The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop star in a host of national television travel shows.


A special design award.

For the first time Grasmere Gingerbread® is presented in a commemorative tin which wins a special design award.


The long queue.

By the middle of the decade The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is renowned for its long line of eager customers from the UK and the rest of the world.


The Gingerbread Shop is now truly world-famous.

As more and more TV programmes from overseas are broadcast from The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, Sarah Nelson’s spicy-sweet culinary sensation goes global.


Joanne and Andrew take over.

Joanne and Andrew Hunter take over The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop with innovative and ambitious plans to develop the business in the 21st century.


The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop goes on the road.

Customers are able to buy Grasmere Gingerbread® without visiting The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop after it takes its new trade stand to artisan markets and shows across the country. It helps to further spread the word about Sarah Nelson’s wonderful culinary invention.


National and international orders increase.

The Church Stile building across the road from The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is converted into a Mail Order department to process increasing amounts of national and international orders.


National acclaim.

Throughout the noughties Grasmere Gingerbread® features on a range of national food and lifestyle TV programmes.


New branding and product ranges.

Grasmere Gingerbread® creates a distinctive Sarah Nelson brand and the range now includes fudges, chocolates, conserves, body products and gifts.


Grasmere Gingerbread® wedding favours are launched.

A range of romantic Grasmere Gingerbread® wedding favours is launched which instantly prove popular with marrying couples across the country. Ginger warms the blood and induces passion...


New e-commerce website is launched.

A new 3D ‘pop-up’ e-commerce website is launched at a Victorian themed fair inside the nearby Wordsworth Hotel to celebrate the 160th anniversary of Grasmere Gingerbread®. An anniversary tin proves popular with customers.


Storm Desmond wreaks havoc in the Lake District.

The storm destroys the main A591 road from Keswick to Grasmere. It takes six months to rebuild. Eden Rose Hunter, daughter of Joanne and Andrew Hunter records a special video recording of Somewhere Only We Know to raise funds for the Cumbria Flood Recovery Appeal.


Royal seal of approval.

Princes Charles visits The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop to boost morale in the wake of Storm Desmond.


Grasmere Gingerbread® available all week.

The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop opens its doors to full Sunday trading.


Rory Bremner and the Lonely Planet’s Ultimate guidebook.

Satirist and impersonator Rory Bremner brings his popular Great British Views TV show to The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. He leaves with a very favourable impression of Grasmere Gingerbread®.

The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop books itself a place in the bestseller lists when it appears in the Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist guidebook. It is also voted as one of the top ten places to shop by VisitBritain.


The Covid pandemic lockdown.

The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop closes its famous green door for the first time in its history but loyal customers continue to buy freshly baked Grasmere Gingerbread® from its online shop. Hundreds of packets of complimentary Grasmere Gingerbread® are dispatched to hospitals and care homes to acknowledge the heroics of health workers during the country’s national emergency.


Grasmere Gingerbread® ingredients are revealed.

Grasmere Gingerbread® includes its ingredients on packaging for the first time to comply with Natasha’s Law but the recipe remains a secret.

Sarah Nelson’s original handwritten recipe remains safely secured within a biscuit tin inside a Cumbrian bank vault.


More office space.

A marketing and administration suite opens in Church Stile to accommodate new members of staff. Grasmere Gingerbread® now employs 30 people - up from just 3 in the year 2000.


A new shop in Hawkshead.

A second shop selling freshly baked Grasmere Gingerbread®, takeaway artisan takeaway coffee, Sarah Nelson branded goods and Grasmere Gingerbread® Ice Cream opens on the corner of Main Street in Hawkshead.


Our remarkable 170th anniversary.

Grasmere Gingerbread® celebrates its remarkable 170th anniversary with a green and gold commemorative tin and adds new products to its Sarah Nelson branded range.

Grasmere Gingerbread® wins Speciality Food Retailer of the Year in the Prestige North of England Awards bringing the total number of awards won to 25 - see full listings of awards.