Blog

The Distribution of Hot Cross Buns in a Churchyard

Posted on

Butterworth Charity

On Good Friday hot cross buns are distributed in the churchyard of St Bartholomew the Great. The ceremony known as the Butterworth Charity, was named after Joshua Whitehead Butterworth who created the trust in 1887. It was set up to provide the sum of six pence to twenty one needy widows in the parish and buns were to be handed out to children who attended the distribution. With the understanding that nowadays anyone who attends can have a hot cross bun I went to investigate further.  

Butterworth Charity

The ceremony started with a procession from the church to the churchyard at 11.30am. I arrived about half an hour before, met up with a few City Guides friends and we had more than enough time to get ourselves in a good position to watch. Pamplets are handed out containing the schedule of events.

Butterworth Charity

 The large wicker baskets containing the hot cross buns were placed on a flat gravestone.

Butterworth Charity

The Rector welcomed everyone and prayed. This was followed with the hymn "There is a Green Hill Far Away", a reading and then the address which explained the history of the ceremony.

Butterworth Charity

The Rector then asked if there were any needy widows in the crowd to make themselves known. One woman came forward and was presented with 20p (2015).

Butterworth Charity

 The eagerly anticipated hot cross buns were then distributed. 

Butterworth Charity

 First to be served were the choir.

Butterworth Charity

 The hot cross buns appear to have hit the right note with the choir!

Butterworth Charity

The buns were then distributed to the crowd. The buns are served halved and buttered. Everyone was very polite and just took one piece. The remaining buns were then shared out so some people got a second helping.

Butterworth Charity

This was followed by another hymn, the Lord's Prayer and a final blessing. After the ceremony a service was held inside the church.

The ceremony lasts about half an hour and it's really enjoyable. The event is free to attend but a collection for charity is taken during the ceremony.

St Bartholomew the Great located in Smithfield is one of my favourites in the City of London. Dating back to 1123 it was originally founded by Rahere as an Augustinian Priory. In more recent times the church has appeared in many films, best known is Four Weddings and a Funeral, where it featured as the church for the fourth wedding. 

For more information about St Bartholomew see their website http://www.greatstbarts.com/index.html

Happy Easter everyone!

To explore the area further book a Sinister Smithfield walk.

If you enjoyed this you might like reading my blog to find out more about the City Of London.

The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds