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Abingdon Town Council

Abingdon County Hall Museum

Bun Throwing and Abingdon

"500 cakes ... were thrown from the tops of houses into the dirt to be scrambled for, in accordance with ancient usage"
Bun Throwing Bun Throwing Bun Throwing

The last bun throwing was held on Sunday 3rd June 2012 in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. It included bun throwing machines by James May's Man Lab.

2012 Bun Throwing video

The Royal Bun Flight on 29th April 2011
was in celebration of the marriage of HRH Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton

2011 Bun Throwing video

For at least two hundred years the town of Abingdon has celebrated national events of festivities in an unusual way. The Corporation of Abingdon, now Abingdon Town Council, throw fruit buns from the roof of the County Hall building to crowds of people waiting in the market place below. This custom of bun throwing seems to be unique to Abingdon.

The first recorded bun throwing was in 1760. An account by John Waite, tells how he managed to catch a cake, thrown from the Market House (County Hall) during celebrations at the Coronation of King George III.

Early accounts record that cakes were distributed to the people. Yet it seems that from early on the buns or cakes were thrown. Borough Minutes of 1831 record that 500 penny cakes were distributed to the populace for the accession of King William III. The Abingdon Herald’s account of the celebrations mentions that “500 cakes ... were thrown from the tops of houses into the dirt to be scrambled for, in accordance with ancient usage”.

Events celebrated by bun throwing have included Royal occasions and other festivities. A selection include: 1810 Golden Jubilee of King George III, 1837 Coronation of Queen Victoria, 1856 end of the Crimean War, 1887 Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1956 the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Abingdon, 1980 the Queen Mother’s 80th Birthday, 1995 50th Anniversary of VE Day.

The Museum has buns from the last 17 bun throwing. These are carefully looked after to preserve them for the future. The earliest dates from 1887 and was part of celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. A few are on show in the staircase display while others are kept in storage and brought out for exhibitions or for special appointments.

RECORDED BUN THROWINGS IN ABINGDON

1761 Coronation of King George III
1810 Golden Jubilee of King George III

1821 Coronation of King George IV
1831 Coronation of King William IV
1837 Coronation of Queen Victoria
1856 Declaration of Peace at the end of the Crimean War
1863 Marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra
1887 Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria
1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria
1902 Coronation of King Edward VII
1911 Coronation of King George V
1935 Silver Jubilee of King George VI
1937 Coronation on King George VI
1946 VE Day
1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
1956 Visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Abingdon
1966 Abingdon International Week
1974 End of the Borough of Abingdon
1977 Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II
1980 Queen Mother's 80th Birthday
1981 Marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer
1986 Marriage of the Duke of York to Sarah Ferguson
1987 40th Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II
1990 Queen Mother’s 90th Birthday
1995 50th Anniversary of VE Day
1997 50th Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II
2000 Millennium
2000 Queen Mother’s 100th Birthday
2002 Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II
2006 Queen Elizabeth II 80th Birthday
2006 450th Anniversary of Abingdon Charter and visit from the Princess Royal to Abingdon
2011 Marriage of HRH Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton
2012 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

©2012 Abingdon County Hall Museum