Another hot cross bun hung up for Widow’s Son — 200 years on

Petty Officer Steve Frewer. Picture: Sandra Rowse

Petty Officer Steve Frewer. Picture: Sandra Rowse - Credit: Archant

It’s been 200 years — but still the widow’s son hasn’t turned up to eat his hot cross bun.

Hot cross buns from past years still hang above the bar at the Widow's Son

Hot cross buns from past years still hang above the bar at the Widow's Son - Credit: Archant

His mum continued hanging a bun out every year on Good Friday until she died.

Hot cross buns from past years still hang above the bar at the Widow's Son

Hot cross buns from past years still hang above the bar at the Widow's Son - Credit: Archant

She always hoped he would return from sea to her house in the village of Bromley-by-Bow, east London, but he never did — only the buns remained.

Hot cross buns from past years still hang above the bar at the Widow's Son

Hot cross buns from past years still hang above the bar at the Widow's Son - Credit: Archant

A pub now stands on the site of her cottage, called the Widow’s Son, in Devons Road.

It opened in 1848, where the tradition of hanging a bun in a hammock over the bar continues to this day.


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Patrick Hines, 93, born opposite the Widow’s Son pub, hasn’t missed the Easter tradition in nearly 70 years.

Sailors from HMS President Naval Reserve base in Wapping turned up on Friday to add this year’s bun to the stale collection.

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Joining them was Petty Officer Steve Frewer, from Rainham, who had docked in Portsmouth the night before the Good Friday event after six months at sea - and rushed to London to see it.

The 26-year-old said: “I first heard about the tradition a few years ago from a cousin who works at the pub and it was something I was very interested in seeing it because it is steeped in naval tradition.

“Now if I’m on land I’ll make sure I go and see it.

“My parents are from the east end originally and there’s such a unique atmosphere about the place.”

The honour of hanging the bun went to Able Seaman Nicola Triggs.

Patrick Hines, 93, born opposite the Widow’s Son pub, hasn’t missed the Easter tradition in nearly 70 years

Landlady Erica Turner throws a “widow’s bash” every year when up to 200 revellers turn up.

Some of the ancient buns got toasted when a blaze broke out in the pub in the 1980s.

Tradition has it that the widow refused to believe her son was lost at sea during the Napoleonic Wars and would have a new bun waiting for him every Easter, adding to those she had kept from previous years.

When she eventually died, the buns were found hanging from a beam in her cottage.

The pub opened on the site in 1848, with the hot cross bun tradition that has been upheld by successive landlords ever since.

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