Will you be egg rolling or pace egging this Easter Monday?

Posted on - 29th March, 2018 - 9:07pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston News
Avenham Park egg rolling has been going on for centuries
Avenham Park egg rolling has been going on for centuries

If you really want to get into the tradition of Egg Rolling this year, it’s time to ditch the chocolate eggs and get the saucepan out.

Egg Rolling at Avenham Park is one of Preston’s biggest events of the year, and the act of rolling eggs down grassy hills goes back hundreds of years.

Nowadays the eggs that are rolled tend to be of the chocolate variety, but in days gone by children would use decorated hard-boiled eggs known as pace eggs.

Traditional pace eggs are made by wrapping eggs in onion skins and boiling them, which colours the shells to create a mottled gold appearance.

This is why you may hear egg rolling referred to as pace egging. If you want to try the more traditional method of pace egging, scroll down for a recipe for pace eggs.

Read more: Preston Egg Rolling programme launched in Avenham Park

There is some debate about where the name pace egg originates. Some say it’s from the Old English Pasch meaning Passover, others that it’s from the French word for Easter, Pâques. Or it could be derived from Latin – some claim it’s from Pacha, which means Easter, others that it’s from pasche meaning passion. There’s also a suggestion it’s a dialect form of peace.

As for why we roll eggs down hills at all – there is a theory that it originates from the Pagan feast of Ä’ostre. Children in England, Germany and other countries apparently rolled eggs down hillsides as part of the Ä’ostre festivities. It has also been connected to the rolling away of the stone from Jesus’s tomb.

The tradition around pace eggs extends further than decorating and rolling. In other places the eggs were eaten throughout the Easter weekend or given to Pace Eggers who would perform pace egg plays and songs in the streets. Pace egg plays died out after World War I but have been revived in some areas of the country including Greater Manchester, where the Bury Pace Eggers perform every Easter.

A word of advice if you are planning to roll real eggs this Easter Monday – make sure the broken eggshells are crushed carefully afterwards or else, according to Lancashire legend, you run the risk of them being stolen and used as boats by witches. You have been warned…

A traditional pace egg Pic: Lavender & Lovage
A traditional pace egg Pic: Lavender & Lovage

Recipe for Traditional Easter Marbled Pace Eggs 

Thank you to Karen from Lavender and Lovage for the recipe.

Serves: 12 pace eggs
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes


  • 12 free-range eggs
  • 6 – 8 onion skins (red and yellow)
  • tinfoil
  • natural non-coloured string
  • butter (optional)
  • beetroot water or spinach water (optional)

Read more: What you can do in Preston during the Easter holidays


Step 1: Peel the outer skins away from red and yellow onions. Wrap the skins around the eggs in a random way – you do not need to cover the egg completely.

Step 2: Encase the eggs with the onion skins in a piece of aluminium foil – covering completely, OR tie pieces of non-coloured string around the eggs.

Step 3: Boil the eggs for about 5 -7 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool in the water.

Step 4: Peel away the string, aluminium foil, onion skins and arrange the coloured eggs in a basket or egg holder – for the centre of the Easter Breakfast, Tea or Brunch table.

Step 5: You can “polish” the eggs with a bit of butter to deepen the colours and give them a gloss. Alternative dyes include, beetroot water and spinach water for red and green eggs.

What’s the verdict – will you be Egg Rolling or Pace Egging this Easter Monday? Let us know in the comments below.

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