The Widow’s Son Pub in Devon’s Road, Bow, hosted its annual Good Friday Hot Cross Bun Festival today.
Local people and naval personnel come every year to add a hot cross bun to the basket which hangs from the ceiling. “The Royal Navy have their ceremony, when they add one bun each year and hitch it to the net on Good Friday,” said Erika Turner, wife of landlord George Turner, who has been behind the bar for five years.
“The people who were in charge of the pub before us told us about it and said they would like us to carry it on,” she added.
This tradition dates back to the Napoleonic Wars in the nineteenth century, when a woman who lived on the pub’s site baked a hot cross bun for her son’s return from the sea on Good Friday.
He never returned. She added a new bun to a basket in her cottage every Easter, keeping up hope of her son’s arrival home.
When the pub was re-built after the widow’s death, the new owners found the baked collection hanging in her cottage. They decided to keep the tradition going and name the pub in her honour.
A fire in the 1980s burnt many of the buns, which by then covered the entire ceiling. But some singed ones still remain, along with those added since.
The pub also holds many pieces of Navy memorabilia, including sailors’ caps and pictures of Royal Navy ships that have been honoured in the ceremony throughout the years.