The widow’s son

Just up the road from Beaumont Square is the Widow’s Son in Devons Road which is a Grade II* listed public house built in the 19th century with an interesting history, featuring a Christian festival behind its name.

The story is that a widow’s house previously stood on the site. Expecting her sailor son home from the sea during the Napoleonic wars one Easter, she naturally baked him a hot cross bun, but unfortunately, he did not return. The widow lived in hope and next year made another bun, and so on.

It was commonly believed at that time, that bread or buns baked on Good Friday would never grow mouldy and had a marked medicinal value, it was also not unknown for such items to be hung up.

After her death years, stale buns were found hanging from a beam in her cottage, inevitably the house became famous for its collection of buns, and when in 1848 a pub was built on the same site it was naturally called the Widow’s Son and the custom continued; each year a sailor bringing another bun to be hung from the pub’s ceiling. The tradition almost ended when ironically the lease on the Widow’s Son ran out a week before Easter, with developers wanting to turn the site into yet another a block of flats.

Thankfully the tradition is back at the Widow’s Son after the enthusiasm of the new landlord and the participation of sailors from the training ship HMS President which is permanently moored alongside the Victoria Embankment.

You can see the current, currant buns (sorry!) in the net.

Featured image: The Widow’s Son, Public House, Bow, a grade II listed public house on Devon’s Road, opposite Campbell Road, by David Anstiss (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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