Royal Navy’s Good Friday ‘bun hanging’ comes home to Widow’s Son pub

Widow's son pub in Bromley-by-Bow [Google streetview]

Widow's son pub in Bromley-by-Bow [Google streetview] - Credit: Google

An old naval tradition of hanging out a hot cross bun on Good Friday returns to the original pub in London’s East End today where it began nearly 170 years ago.

The honour for hanging the bun went to Able Seaman Nicola Triggs in 2013

The honour for hanging the bun went to Able Seaman Nicola Triggs in 2013 - Credit: Sandra Rowse

The tradition almost ended last year when the lease on the Widow’s Son pub in Bromley-by-Bow ran out a week before Easter, with developers wanting to turn the site into a block of flats.

But word-of-mouth saved the day when the Queen’s Head in York Square nearby hosted a small event.

“It made sure the tradition would not be lost,” campaigner Andrew Jeffery told the East London Advertiser. “But thankfully it’s back at the Widow’s Son after the enthusiasm of the new landlord and staff and the encouragement of sailors from HMS President.”

The widow always hoped her son would return from sea during the Napoleonic wars to her house in Bromley-by-Bow village, tradition has it. But he never did.

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She refused to believe he was lost at sea and would have a new bun waiting for him every Easter, adding to those she had kept from previous years. The years of stale buns were found hanging from a beam in her cottage after her death.

The pub, opened in 1848 on the site of her cottage in Devons Road, has continued hanging a bun in a hammock over the bar ever since.

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A party of ratings from HMS President Naval Reserve base in Wapping turns up today to add this year’s Good Friday bun to the stale collection at 3pm. The pub throws a ‘widow’s bash’ from 12 noon.

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