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Gareth Paul
Written by Gareth Paul 4th March 2014

How one of Olney’s most famous traditions panned out

It’s Shrove Tuesday, which holds a special place in the heart of Michael Graham. In particular, the estate agency’s Olney team and head office, who’ll be cheering on the town’s pancake race, taking place just a flip of a pan away in the historical town.

The original pancake race is now more than 560 years old, which saw local women sprint along the High Street, complete with frying pans and pancakes to grab a kiss from the Verger of the local church.

The tradition – which this year will be attracting ITV’s Daybreak and celebrity chef Aldo Zilli - is believed to stem from an Olney townswoman. Late for the Shrove Tuesday service in the parish church, she was seen rushing along the cobbled street with her frying pan and pancake.

It is now an annual event, having evolved a number of twists. Now, children from local schools also take part, and the running times of Olney women are pitted against those of women of Liberal in Kansas, USA.

We wish all the ladies a fantastic race and the spectators a great day in Olney!

In the meantime, here’s a little something to get you in the mood…


You’ll need…

  • Two large free-range eggs
  • 30g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 110g plain flour
  • Approximately 120mls milk
  • 60g blueberries
  • Butter or sunflower oil for cooking
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Vanilla ice cream to serve

Sift the baking powder, sugar and flour into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and milk, then add to the flour mix to make a smooth batter, before folding through the blueberries. If you can, leave the batter to rest for a few hours.

When ready to cook, gently heat a little oil or butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Spoon the batter into the pan, allowing it to spread to about eight centimetres in diameter. Reduce the heat and cook for about 90 seconds until small bubbles appear on the surface – when they do, carefully flip the pancake over and cook for a further minute or two, until golden.

Once cooked, flip the pancake onto a plate and keep it warm in a low, pre-heated oven, while you cook the rest. Serve piled up drizzled with a little lemon juice, extra blueberries and vanilla ice-cream.

Where to find out more

Organisers’ official channels:

Olney Town Council:

Thank you to these sources of information: