Fancy a slice of “knocker pie”?

Written by Kaia Vincent
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It’s that time of year again – The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens and everybody’s gone baking mad!

Recipe for mischief

With baking on the brain, we’re always keen to hear about a new recipe and the more original the better. So imagine our delight when, on a recent trip to The Willis Museum bookshop in Basingstoke, a story about a rather unusual pie caught our eye. . .

In November 1881, some local gentlemen who were not particularly popular at the time noticed that something was amiss when each of them opened their front door in the morning. Their door knockers had been pinched overnight.

Ready, steady, bake!

The theft remained a mystery for several weeks, until the knockers were discovered in the unlikeliest form. Superintendent Mark Hibbeard was at Basingstoke Police Station when he received a Christmas hamper with the message “season’s greetings”. . .

To his surprise, what he found inside was not a beautifully decorated Christmas cake or a succulent figgy pudding but a large homemade pie containing the missing door knockers!

Wonder what Mary Berry would say if that turned up as a showstopper bake? As a marketing agency in Hampshire, we must admit that we certainly appreciate the inventiveness and creativity.

Unsolved mystery

Who were the cheeky bakers responsible for this festive offering and what was the motive for their minor crime? Well, their identity was never found out but it was believed that the incident was linked to local council elections and the riots that happened around that time in response to the Salvation Army campaign against alcohol.

Thomas Hardy’s The Trumpet Major may have inspired the anonymous rascals. The tale includes yeoman Festus Derriman suggesting ‘wrenching off door knockers and sending ‘em to the bake house in a pie’ while Britain is under threat of invasion by Napoleon.

Comedy on the menu

Next time you’re heading out for a delicious bite to eat and you want a bit of a giggle, you might decide to ask for “knocker pie”. This became a popular joke at food establishments in Basingstoke following the prank.

Stop and take a closer look at The Triumphal Gateway if you find yourself on London Street in Basingstoke, too. One of the panels features an image of the “knocker pie”; cast forever in bronze by The Morris Singer Foundry.

If you’re looking for marketing agencies in Hampshire to help you connect your everyday marketing, support your marketing projects, or guide your long-term creative vision, then contact Brevity on 01256 536 000 or email

Read our other recent ‘Basingstoke history ‘ inspired blogs:

Information Source: Hollands, J., The Basingstoke Triumphal Gateway, Basingstoke, Friends of The Willis Museum, 2015.