London pub signs – The Widow’s Son…

The Widow’s Son in late 2020. PICTURE: Google Maps

This pub in London’s East End takes it’s name – or so the story goes – from the building which formerly stood on the site – a cottage belonging to a widow.

The pub’s sign showing a sailor with the hanging net of buns.

The tale goes that the widow’s only son went to sea – it’s thought this was during the Napoleonic Wars – and wrote home to his mother that she should expect him at Easter (and could she have a nice hot cross bun waiting for him)?

Tragically, the son never returned, but for the rest of her life, the widow – apparently refusing to accept he had died – continued to keep a hot cross bun for him on every Good Friday. It’s said that following her death, a net full of the unclaimed buns was found hanging from the ceiling of her house.

The site became known as The Bun House and when the pub was built on it in 1848 and named The Widow’s Son in honour of the widow’s tradition, it too carried the “bun house” moniker.

The pub has continued the widow’s tradition and every Good Friday, a sailor from the Royal Navy places a new bun in a net which hangs over the bar.

The now Grade II*-listed pub at 75 Devons Road in Bromley-by-Bow, while not particularly appealing from the outside, still has interior fittings dating from the 1870s.

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