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The Widow's Son also known as The Bun House is a Grade II listed public house at 75 Devons Road, in Bromley-by-Bow in the East End of London.

It was built in the early 19th century in 1848, and it is claimed that the existing building is on the site of an old widow’s cottage. The Krays would often visit this pub, and associates Billy Frost and Lenny Hamilton were interviewed in the pub by the Telegraph newspaper, in 2012.

The Widow's BunsEdit

Every year on Good Friday, the tradition of the Widow’s Buns is celebrated. The legend is that the old widow's only son left to go to sea, possibly during the Napoleonic Wars, and wrote to her explaining that he would be returning home at Easter and to have a nice hot cross bun waiting for him. Sadly, he never returned, but his mother continued to keep a fresh hot cross bun every Good Friday for the rest of her life. After her death, a huge collection of hot cross buns was discovered in a net hanging from the ceiling of her cottage.

More considered accounts take the view that the specific story of the widow and her son is unlikely to be true, as the underlying custom of a belief in the special properties of buns baked on Good Friday was widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries. From at least as early as the mid-18th century, "Good Friday bread" was thought to have medicinal or curative properties, and hardened over the months or years, could be grated into food to help digestive or bowel problems.
The Widow's Son, London

The pub in 2016, one of the last remaining pubs in Mile End.

In 1848, the public house that was built upon the site of her cottage was named in honour of the tradition she had created. It is locally known as the Bun House. The tradition has continued ever since, with a sailor from the Royal Navy placing a new bun in the net hanging above the bar each year. The practice may have been based upon the belief that hot cross buns baked on Good Friday would never decay. For some years the annual bun has been specially baked by Mr Bunn of Mr Bunn’s Bakery, Chadwell Heath. A fire in the pub in the 1980s burnt many of the old buns in the net, but even their remnants are included in the net as a memento of that fire.

In 2013, it was noted by a local newspaper that 93-year-old Patrick Hines, who was born opposite the pub, has visited every Good Friday for nearly 70 years. The pub was closed, it was thought permanently, in 2015-17. The 2016 ceremony was instead carried out at the Queens Head in Limehouse. A comparable tradition of nailing buns to the ceiling on Good Friday exists at the Bell Inn at Horndon-on-the-Hill in Essex.

Possible redevelopmentEdit

38-hamilton-frost

Hamilton and Frost in the pub, 2012.

In March 2012, Punch Taverns sold the property to Dalco Developments who may close the pub and redevelop the site. In May 2013, planning permission for the "development of a second floor 5x bedroom flat above existing Grade II* Listed Widows Son Public House; alterations to the existing building; and development of new three storey 2 x 4 bed houses in adjacent Public House beer garden" was refused.

In 2016, new plans were submitted – not to redevelop the pub itself, but to erect terraced houses in the space presently used as the pub car-park and beer garden. The pub was closed for a year and reopened early in 2017.