History of Mothering Sunday

History of Mothering Sunday

What pops into your head when you think of visiting or when your remember your Mum?

For myself, it is the opening welcome of the front door and delicious smells of cooking wafting from the kitchen. My Mum is a fantastic cook and enjoys planning meals and cooking new recipes. Even though I have turned sixty, I still love going home for dinner! My husband and I look forward to this regular family ritual. When my children are home a meal and a glass of wine with granny is always a high priority at any time of the year.

I must admit to never having heard of Carlin Pancakes until I researched this article and to be honest I’m not sure mum would fancy cooking them! I wonder if the flavour is anything like Pease Pudding?

What food would have been on the historic table on Mothering Sunday?

One might expect a bowl of steeped peas fried in butter with salt and pepper in the North of England, or some pancakes known as carlings. An article in the Morpeth Herald dated 1888 suggests that in North East England the tradition of eating carlings on this day became so strong that it became known locally as Carling Sunday.

What is A Carling/Carlin Pancake?

A carling is a type field pea known as a Maple Pea. It is an ancient food grown and used since Neolithic times. Field peas are grown and left to dry out before they are harvested instead of being harvested as a green garden vegetable. The Carling Pea is still eaten today and differs from other dried peas like marrowfat or split peas in that it doesn’t disintegrate after cooking. Two recipe suggestions I came across were –


Boil the carlins until soft

Mix with onions and breadcrumb

Form into small pancakes and fry.


Pre-soak carlins overnight

Boil until soft seasoning with salt and vinegar

Parch (dry out in the oven)

Season further with rum and brown sugar.

In other parts of the country, simnel cake was often associated as a traditional gift for Mother’s Day.

History of Mother’s Day

Mothers Day, falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent or Mid-Lent Sunday. Another name for Mid-lent Sunday is Laetare Sunday. The recognition of Laetare (to rejoice) Sunday dates to the medieval period and has religious origins. Further reading…


In the Middle Ages, a custom developed whereby people would return to their mother church on this day – another association for the term “going mothering.” Later this particular Sunday was marked as a day when daughters who had left home to work in domestic service or housekeeping could have a day off to attend church with their families.

“One can Imagine how, after a stripling or or a maiden had gone to service, or launched independent housekeeping, the old bonds of filial love would be brightened by this pleasant annual visit, as signalised, custom demanded should be, by the excitement attending with some novelty and perhaps gift.” Morpeth Herald 1888

The Book of Days first published in 1864 associates this calendar day with the custom of visiting one’s parents, particularly your Mother; taking with you a small gift.

“A youth engaged in this amiable duty was said to go a-mothering, and thence the day itself came to be called Mothering Sunday.” (Morpeth Herald, 1888).

In 1914 Anna Jarvis promoted Mothers Day in the USA ‘as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.’

In 1921 a lady named Constance Adelaide Smith (1878–1938), wrote a book, The Revival of Mothering Sunday, written under the pen name ‘C. Penswick Smith’, which explored the evidence for Mid-Lent Sunday tradition. Constance Smith demonstrated that historically there was an international record for honouring all kinds of mothers.

Mothers day’s origins are wide-ranging, but what a great way to connect with our female heritage!

Mother’s Day Special Edition Family Folio

Celebrate your female heritage with our Special Edition Mother’s Day Family Folio! We have included even more beautiful illustration in this pack which is available for a limited time only.

Order in good time for Mother’s Day 4-6 week turn around.

A Curated Collection of Little Histories – Plus

Three generational family tree, 3 hours specialist research, one ancestor biography, two illustrated archival recipe cards, Mothering Sunday history timeline, illustrated history of the simnel cake

Take your mum on a journey through history. Our carefully researched folio pages are surrounded with colourful drawings of violets and cakes. We have delved deep into the archives to bring you two original recipe cards beautifully illustrated with ingredients and baking utensils. Have fun baking your simnel cake from a 1911 recipe.

And it doesn’t stop there!

We will add extra special value with three hours of research recording three generations of personal female heritage to create an extra special folio to add to your family treasures.

Mother's Day Family Folio
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Mother's  Day History Page

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Three generational maternal family tree
Ancestor biography
Ancestor biography
Special edition Mother's Day Folio with 2 a5 archival recipe cards

This is fabulous gift is available at a reduced price compared to our traditional Family Folio. If you really feel like splashing out for your mum why not team it up with one of our favourite gifts below or really splash out with a bespoke and impeccably researched Family History Folio?

Our Favourite Gifts

Discovering Heritage House Portrait
House Portrait
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6 thoughts on “History of Mothering Sunday

    1. david wardell says:

      I seem to recall it was PASTE egg day Amanda referring to the hard boiled eggs which we always made. We used to wrap the eggs in onion skins and a scrap of cloth to hold them in place and then boil them. It produced a lovely marbled brown pattern which was superior to just using a dye. My Aunt used gorse flowers instead but the results were not as stunning. A quick rub with a buttery hand and they shone like alabaster eggs. We used to roll them down hill on Easter Sunday.

  1. david wardell says:

    Set off memories for me Fiona. I remember having Carlins at the Ovingham Goose Fair each year around about 1989 onwards at the start of June I think. The gentleman running the stall served them, as you said, with rum and brown sugar. Quite delicious .

  2. Maryrose says:

    I like to read about history and even more about Mother’s Day, interesting blog so as the recipes and more that you are presenting. My mother is all my world, and so all about mothers for me is a priority.

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