The Widow’s Son Bun Ceremony
This lonely looking E3 pub has had a spruce up recently. A fresh lick of paint complementing a great bit of quirky London history; The Widow’s Son Bun Ceremony.
Established in 1848 as recorded by pubshistory.com, inside the pub says it was established in 1783, but before 1848 it seems there were cottages on the site.
Inside they have some great remnants of the glory days; cut glass and coloured mirrors give every appearance of a good ol’ Victorian boozer.
I found a mention of the pub in this 2015 Londonist article charting the 12 best pubs in London from 1967 (according to food writer Adrian Bailey). Des de Moor finds a sorry scene with the “whiff of neglect” unavoidable. But this particular line jumped out at me…
“It’s right next to Devons Road DLR station and, with new housing going up all around, it should be unforgivable if a pub with this pedigree is denied a new lease of life.”
Thankfully this has occurred with the help of the new proprietors; Vulcan and Katie who have been restoring the pub which reopened 4 months ago.
Efforts are currently underway to scrub up the outside, taking off the blue paint to revel the lovely tiles underneath.
But in even better news, this Good Friday (14 April 2017), they re-established ‘Bun Day’.
What is Bun Day?
The story goes that during the Napoleonic Wars a Widow living on the site of this pub received a letter from her son, asking for a fresh hot cross bun for when he returned for Easter.
Sadly the widow’s son never returned but dutifully his mother every year produced a new hot cross bun, and when her house was demolished to make way for the pub, a store of these buns were discovered.
Under the former owners of The Widow’s Son hundreds of these varnished buns hung in a net over the bar and every year a new one – with the date baked into the top – is added by a serving member of the Navy.
You can spot the new – expectant – blue net above the bar here!
Re-establishing the Tradition
Nick Edelshain (far left) told me that he’d been to every bun ceremony for the last 15 years and his colleague (centre holding the bun) had attended each year since 1996. They were devastated when it didn’t happen last year because the pub had closed.
As tradition states, he was lifted by his Royal Navy colleagues in front of a full crowd in the pub (you can get an idea of the atmosphere by my blurry pictures!)
Also in attendance was an Officer named Brian Spears (sadly I didn’t manage to get a photo of him) who had the honour of hanging the bun in 1974.
This Year’s Bun Ceremony
The 2018 Bun Ceremony with take place on Friday 30 April. They are open from 12pm and the ceremony will be at 3pm. Find out more on their website.