Hot Cross Bun – by Aaron Matthews (Volunteer)
Traditionally eaten at the end of Lent to symbolise the crucifixion of Jesus, hot cross buns are a type of sweet bread with spices, marked with a cross and containing dried fruit.
The first recognisable hot cross bun was made in 1361 by a monk named Brother Thomas Rocliffe. The Alban Bun, as it was known, had a cross cut into the top of the bun rather than being piped on with flour paste.
Although linked to Christianity, they likely have pre-Christian origins and were baked to celebrate the spring festival celebrating Eostre, a Germanic goddess of fertility, after which Easter is said to have been named.
In the Tudor period, Queen Elizabeth prohibited the sale of hot cross buns at all times other than Good Friday, Christmas, and burials. The punishment, if found to be breaking this law, was to give any buns you had to the poor.
Considered holy, hot cross buns were said to resist decay and were believed to have healing powers. They would also rid a house of bad spirits as well as protect it from fire. If taken on voyages at sea, they were said to offer ships protection from shipwreck.
People would often nail the buns to beams within their houses to ward off evil. While we don’t know exactly how old this bun is, it has been hanging around the museum for at least 100 years!