On Sunday 3rd June 2012 my home town of Abingdon-on-Thames staged its unique tradition of Bun Throwing to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Like much of the country and the commonwealth Abingdon-on-Thames had lots of Jubilee entertainment taking place and we had enjoyed the Street Party that was taking place along Ock Street prior to the main-event of the Bun Throwing.
Bun Throwing began in 1761 to mark the coronation of King George III and the Diamond Jubilee throw was to be the 33rd event in that time! I’ve attended every Bun Throwing in the town since 1981 and the 2012 event was to be my 13th.
In all that time I have never known a Bun Throwing to take place in such terrible weather conditions – the rain was very heavy, but this did not put off the crowds, as you can see from the great photo (below) courtesy of Alastair Fear of the excellent Abingdon Blog.
|The Crowd at the Abingdon-on-Thames Bun Throwing. Photo by Alastair Fear / AbingdonBlog.co.uk|
The town’s marketplace was as busy as I have ever seen it and was full of excited townsfolk, along with a few visitors, all eager to try to capture one of the 6,000 currant buns to be thrown. We arrived in the town centre at around 4pm and took shelter under the newly re-opened old county hall.
|The newly refurbished old County Hall in Abingdon-on-Thames before the Bun Catchers gathered in the marketplace|
Before the start we managed to watch TV’s James May being interviewed ahead of his attempt to launch some buns via a special ‘machine’.
I also popped into the cafe Throwing Buns to say hello to the owners Kate and Phil as we’ve been chatting about Bun Throwing (& #BunThrowing) on Twitter in the build-up to the event.
|Jubilee at Throwing Buns!!|
The Bun Throwing began after the playing of the national anthem and the first buns were thrown by the Mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames Councillor Monica Lovatt. The Mayor was joined by Danny Parry and Selina Wallis who were victorious in the World Bun Throwing Championships that were held in April 2012 to find the town’s best bun throwers.
James May from the TV show James May’s Man Lab had brought a range of contraptions with him in an effort to launch buns to the people at the back of the crowd. One comment on the Abingdon Blog said that three buns fired from his machine had landed on the roof of New Look which is on the far side of the marketplace!
|James May and his Man Lab team with one of their Bun Throwing machines. Photo courtesy of Alastair Fear / AbingdonBlog.co.uk|
The throw itself lasted around 20 minutes and the bells of St Nicholas Church rang throughout. Our trio – me, Emily Gottfried and my brother Jon Gottfried – managed to bag a haul of 24 buns in total, one of which was a very special bun and had the Diamond Jubilee ‘60’ marking on it!
|Our haul of buns, including a special Diamond Jubilee one!|
Jon caught the most and had 14 buns in total; Emily managed to grab one bun, while I managed to get nine with a mixture of catches and scrambles.
|Me, Emily and Jon just before the buns rain down|
Jon also managed to almost catch a bun with his eye, but it unfortunately bounced off his head where it was subsequently picked up from the ground by a fellow catcher, leaving Jon with just a huge welt and a bloodshot eye for the rest of the day!
My friend Karl Sullivan had ventured to the event with us, but having not worn a waterproof jacket and being thoroughly drenched an hour before the throw began; he decided to take shelter in a friend’s flat at the back of the marketplace where he had a great view of the action.
|Jon and me in the mix at the Abingdon Bun Throwing. Taken from crowd photo by Alastair Fear / AbingdonBlog.co.uk|
A regular sight at Bun Throwings, even in bright and sunny weather, is people using upturned umbrellas to try to catch the rejoicing buns as they fall to the crowd. I have never seen so many umbrellas as on Sunday, but for a change most people actually put them away while they tried to catch a bun. The people who were standing next to us placed their still open umbrella on the ground and used it to store their buns; I also saw one bun land in it during the downpour!
|Emily takes cover at the Abingdon-on-Thames Bun Throwing|
|Jon Gottfried at the Abingdon Bun Throwing|
The oddest ‘catching device’ we saw was a fishing net. As traditionalists and members of the anti-umbrella brigade at first we scoffed at this method, but once we saw it in action and netting three buns we had to give a nod to the ingenuity of the user.
|One of the bun catchers employs a fishing net!|
Following the very rainy event the marketplace quickly emptied, with quite a few people seeking shelter under the old county hall. At Bun Throwings it is normal for many buns to land on the ground and be quickly collected, but with the very wet conditions many of the Current buns were left on the ground, with Jon saying it “looked like a Bunmageddon” in the marketplace and surrounding areas!
|The aftermath of the Bun Throwing!|
Walking through the town centre on Bank Holiday Monday we spotted a few of the buns still laying around – one was on a step on the old county hall.
|One of the buns sits on a step at the County Hall on Bank Holiday Monday!|
All in all the latest Bun Throwing was a brilliant event and a great way to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It’s unknown when the next one will take place, or what it will celebrate, but I’m sure many people will once again turn out for it. I can’t wait!
|Me and Jon with our special Diamond Jubilee Bun|
Bun Throwing Stats & Facts:
- 6,000 buns thrown
- 33rd Bun Throwing since 1761
- The first Bun Throwing in the town since the name was officially re-named Abingdon-on-Thames
- First Bun Throwing to include two World Champion Bun Throwers take to the roof alongside the Mayor
- Guests from Abingdon, Virginia, USA attended the event for the first time
- 1867 – a Bun Throwing was held to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria
- 1953 – a Bun Throwing was held to mark the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
- 1977 – a Bun Throwing was held for the Queen's Silver Jubilee
- 2002 – a Bun Throwing was held to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee
Related Blog Posts:
- Competing in the first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships in Abingdon-on-Thames
- Abingdon-on-Thames’ Bun Throwing to get ‘Man Lab’ assistance!
- Abingdon Bun Throwing Report - Friday 29th April 2011
Bun Throwing Links:
- Abingdon Blog
- Abingdon Bun Throwing – Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee
- Abingdon-on-Thames Museum
- Abingdon-on-Thames Museum – Bun Throwing Page
- Abingdon-on-Thames Council