diamond geezer

 Friday, April 14, 2017

On Good Friday each year the spotlight falls on The Widow's Son pub in E3, home of the famous bun-hanging ceremony. Legend has it that in the early 18th century a local sailor, having promised to return home at Easter, drowned at sea. His mother refused to accept the loss of her son and baked a hot cross bun for him annually until she died. The Widow's Son pub opened on the site of her cottage in 1848, and the bun-baking tradition has continued ever since. A net full of increasingly stale buns hangs from a beam over the bar, and each Good Friday a serving sailor comes along to drop another inside.

Until last year. New owners Dalco Developments turfed out the landlady a few days before Easter, leaving the old boozer empty on the crucial day, and the bun ceremony had to be hastily rearranged to a pub in Limehouse. Here's my full report from last March.

In 2016 our local heritage stuttered, but this Good Friday the news is rather better. The Widow's Son reopened last November with fresh tenants behind the bar, and they've confirmed that the traditional bun-hanging will be returning today. Well, almost traditional anyway.



If you know the pub of old you won't spot much of a difference from outside on Devons Road, save the ongoing encroachment of an enormous housing estate at the rear - Merchants Walk. Look a little closer and you'll spot chalkboards outside, and they give more of a hint as to what's happened within. The pub now offers "Burger + Pint" for a tenner on Mondays and Tuesdays, and promises "we mince our own beef!", whereas previously pork scratchings would have been the culinary highlight. They also do tapas, and host live music on a Friday evening, and don't open until 5pm (or 4pm at the weekend) because their clientele has changed. This Google review from Will Burns sums up the new vibe succinctly, I think.
Wow, this place has changed a lot. From a shabby old man pub, fruit machines etc, to a cool cocktail bar. I had the beetroot and chilli margarita. I'd also recommend the T Rex. A breath of fresh air for the area.
Peer inside and yes, the interior is now liberally scattered with small circular tables topped with menus and candles, and there might just be tubs of homemade salsa on the bar. A further chalkboard promises "Wakad cocktails" and "Lovley Food", whatever the former is, plus details of the pub's social media presence on "insta" and "faceyb". Unfortunately the pub's website is fresh out of the box and contains no relevant information whatsoever, but there is a poster in the window about Good Friday... except oh, it's half-fallen down.



Thankfully the landlady instagrammed the poster yesterday, so now I know what it said.
BUN DAY IS BACK!

The Widow's Son is proud to have the Hot Cross Bun ceremony 2017, this Good Friday 14th April from 12am.

Complimentary buns, Buffet, the return of DJ Justin Vella the Story Tella. Come & raise a rum with us for the old girl.
The post, but not the poster, confirms that sailors from HMS President are coming down to put the new 2017 bun in the net, which means the old tradition is back on track. The presence of a live DJ might sound odd, but Romford's Justin Vella has played the Widow's Son a number of times before, spinning tracks with a family-friendly vibe rather than hosting any leftfield house party. Nevertheless, any old sea dog returning to The Widow's Son this Easter is in for a culture shock.

Before anyone scoffs at the modern upgrade, remember that this corner of East London is changing fast. New flats are going up at a rate of knots, and their young cosmopolitan tenants are perfectly happy with burgers, cocktails and live music. Bow's grey-haired ale drinkers either died out or moved away, and the replacement Bangladeshi community never drank alcohol anyway. The vast majority of the old pubs around here have closed and been sold off as apartments, so it's genuinely amazing that any drinking establishment from the Victorian era should survive. The Widow's Son was dead, but is born again, which is E3's little Easter miracle.

That said, if you're the kind of pedantic drinker who's already thinking "I see they said 12am, I wonder if perchance they meant noon?", I very much doubt that the updated bun ceremony is for you.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream