Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Abingdon-on-Thames celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a Bun Throwing

6,000 buns thrown in Abingdon-on-Thames for the Diamond Jubilee

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.

Abingdon Bun Throwing
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. Ready for the Bun Throwing
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!!
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
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!
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.


Abingdon Bun Throwing
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
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!


Abingdon-on-Thames Bun Throwing
Emily takes cover at the Abingdon-on-Thames Bun Throwing



Jon Gottfried at the Abingdon 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.


Abingdon-on-Thames Bun Throwing
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!


Abingdon Bun Throwing
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!
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!


Abingdon Bun Throwing
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 taking 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

Monday, June 04, 2012

Spotting a Right 'Royal' Diamond Jubilee Garden Party

My full report and photos of the 33rd Abingdon-on-Thames Bun Throwing fun in my old home town will follow shortly.

Despite the very rainy weather we had a great day out celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. On a far more settled day today we made our way back to Luton and on our way home we drove through the riverside village of Benson in Oxfordshire and spotted a right royal sight!


We spotted a right 'Royal' Diamond Jubilee Garden Party in the riverside village of Benson this afternoon!
'The Queen' & 'Prince Philip' enjoying a glass of wine at their Garden Party in Benson

In the meantime please do check out the Abingdon Blog's excellent report from yesterday's Diamond Jubilee Bun Throwing in Abingdon-on-Thames at "Abingdon Bun Throwing – Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee"

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Abingdon-on-Thames’ Bun Throwing to get ‘Man Lab’ assistance!

New method of launching buns to be unveiled at upcoming Bun Throwing in Abingdon-on-Thames

The next Bun Throwing in Abingdon-on-Thames will see another ‘first’ as James May from the BBC TV show James May’s Man Lab will be taking part in an attempt to help launch the buns to the people at the back of the crowd that will be gathering in the market place.

The team from the Man Lab will be building some sort of contraption and will be up on the roof of the old County Hall along with the Mayor, dignitaries and the two winners of the inaugural World Bun Throwing Championships.

You can read the latest news story about the Abingdon Bun Throwing on the Oxford Mail website at “Bun throwers enlist help of TV star”

Since I’ve been a catcher at the Bun Throwing events I’ve seen the throwers use an assortment of different sports rackets to get the buns to as many of the crowd as possible. Some catchers also employ upturned umbrellas to increase their chances of nabbing a prized currant bun!







The Bun Throwing for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee will see 6,000 buns thrown – the largest number of buns thrown at the event since 1761. The next event will also be the first since the town was officially re-named Abingdon-on-Thames.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Abingdon-on-Thames Events in April 2012 - Slideshow from the Abingdon Blog

Review of the month's events in Abingdon-on-Thames

The brilliant Abingdon Blog has put together a slideshow of events in Abingdon-on-Thames during during April 2012.

The first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships were held in the town on the 14th of April and photos from the event are included in the slideshow. You can also see me launching a bun in the video.



Links:
- Abingdon Blog
- Blog Post "A look back at Abingdon in April 2012"

Harwich Kichel Throwing

As a fan of unique customs, traditions and strange games I read with interest about the annual event of ‘Harwich Kichel Throwing’ that is held in Harwich, Essex on the third Thursday of May.

The tradition has some similarities to the Bun Throwing ceremonies that take place in Abingdon-on-Thames.

As part of the yearly Mayor Making ceremony the newly elected Mayor of Harwich throws small spiced fruit buns called ‘Kichels’ from the window of the Guildhall to the crowd of children below.

The event began a couple of hundred years ago and prior to 1949 the event of ‘Mayor’s Day’ took place on the 21st of December each year. This year the Harwich Kichel Throwing will be taking place on Thursday 17th of May.

To read more about the custom of Harwich Kichel Throwing check out the following links:
- Harwich Town Diary
- Calendar Customs

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Competing in the first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships in Abingdon-on-Thames

Abingdon-on-Thames hosts the inaugural World Bun Throwing Championships at town Cricket Club.

On Saturday 14th April my hometown of Abingdon-on-Thames hosted the first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships.

The charity event took place at the Abingdon Vale Cricket Club on Culham Road and was organised to find the town’s best Bun Throwers who would win a place to join the Mayor and other dignitaries atop the old County Hall at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Bun Throwing in June 2012.

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
Banner for the Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012 at Abingdon Vale Cricket Club

Bun Throwing dates back to 1761 and the events are held to celebrate special national or royal milestones. The Bun Throwing events see currant buns (also known as ‘Rejoicing Buns’) thrown to the crowd of townsfolk stood in the market place below. With crowds at Bun Throwings getting larger the Mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames Mike Badcock decided that those people at the back of the crowd may be missing out on catching buns so he set up the World Bun Throwing Championships to find the best throwing arms in the town.

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012 -
Under the World Bun Throwing Championship banner in the town's market place - the location for the Bun Throwing events in the town

According to reports in the Abingdon Herald and the Oxfordshire Guardian between 400 and 500 buns were ordered for the event and a BBC news report says that 250 buns were thrown. The Mayor said that some of the younger competitors ate their buns while waiting to throw! Competitors were asked to register at the event and select the number of bun throw attempts they would like to have. Each bun thrown cost £1 with the money going to the Mayor’s three charities – the Felix Fund, Macmillan Nurses and the War Widows Association.

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
The rules of the World Bun Throwing Championship

Emily and I arrived in town at 11.45am and headed to register at the clubhouse, the World Bun Throwing Championships were due to begin at 2pm so we had some time for a trip to the bun throwing-themed cafe Throwing Buns, a quick game of Crazy Golf in the Abbey Meadows and a general wander around the town before the competition began.

At 2pm we got back to the Abingdon Vale Cricket Club ground on Culham Road to find a large crowd of eager competitors, spectators and the media. Over 500 people attended the event and the Town Crier welcomed everyone before the Mayor started proceedings with a ceremonial first-throw of a bun – marking a distance of around 18m I believe.

The Mayor and the team at Abingdon Vale Cricket Club had prepared for the event with a trial throw (in February) and on Friday 13th April a group had been filmed and interviewed by the local TV news, but the first official bun thrown at the World Bun Throwing Championships was the Mayor’s.

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
Town Mayor Mike Badcock throws the first bun at the Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship

The competitors were then invited to line-up with their registration tickets at the ready and then one-by-one take their place on the stage and attempt to throw their currant bun the furthest.

The playing zone was marked out to a distance of 50 metres and was similar to a Shot Putt/Hammer Throw field with an out-of-bounds area on either side – where the brave spectators took their places.

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
The field of play

Local competitor Mick Neil was the first person to step-up to launch his buns, but not before being interviewed by tournament commentator Bill Reynolds from BBC Radio Oxford. Mick’s buns landed past the Mayor’s attempt and he set the bar with a new 'World Record' of over 20m.

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
The crowd looks on as I have a throw of a currant bun at the Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship

I was the second person from the town to step-up for a throw and had selected four fine currant buns for my attempt at the title. After a couple of throws between the 18 and 21 metre marks I hit a personal best of 25m 10cm to set (and temporarily hold) the new World Record and clubhouse lead. In the event report on the excellent Abingdon Blog, it's noted that the World Record was broken a number of times in this inaugural event!


Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
Launching my first bun at the World Bun Throwing Championship

After my throws our group of me, Emily, my brother Jon and his girlfriend Kim took-up a place on the sidelines to watch the action unfold.

As mentioned, the spectators were lined-up on the out-of-bounds area and we soon found out how dangerous this position was when Kim was hit by a stray currant bun that a player had launched to the left (at around the 17m mark). Jon retrieved this bun as a souvenir of the special occasion.

Some of the bun throwers were managing some tremendous distances, with a number of players hitting the 40m+ mark, but a few players exceeded the magic 50m mark and the judges required an extra tape measure to gauge the distances!

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
The judges measure another throw

The throwers adopted a number of stances, approaches and throwing styles. With bun flattening, under-arm and over-arm throws and some people trying out frisbee and discus-style throws. Some of those who threw the furthest had fashioned the buns into a ball shape to get the best aerodynamic qualities from the buns.

Abingdon World Bun Throwing Championship 2012
The buns after throwing - note the different shapes and sizes they have been moulded into!

The contest continued with a steady stream of over 200 people attempting to become the first-ever World Bun Throwing Champions. There were prizes on offer in the male, female, 10-15 year-old and under-10’s categories. The male and female winners would each gain a place as a Bun Thrower at the Royal Bun Throwing at 6pm on Sunday 3rd June 2012.

The winning man was Danny Parry with an awesome distance of 58m 7cm, Selina Wallis won the women’s prize with a distance of 29m 7cm. Graham Beer won the 10-15 year-old prize with a distance of 52m 8cm and Tiego Logan threw 20m 8cm in the under-10’s competition!

The first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships was a great occasion and a brilliant way to enhance the tradition of Bun Throwing to mark special and royal milestones. While I didn’t manage to win a place as a Bun Thrower I really enjoyed the day, the chance to compete and see so many people getting involved in the action. It was also great to meet the prolific Abingdon blogger Alastair Fear and his blogging dog Harry. I’ve been reading the Abingdon Blog for a number of years and it’s been a great way to keep in touch with all the happenings in the town since I moved away in 2000.

Following the event we also spotted three of the competitors holding their own unofficial Bun Throwing contest beside the River Thames and getting some practice in ready for the 2013 World Championships!

After competing for the chance to be a Bun Thrower I can’t wait to once again be a Bun Catcher at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Bun throwing in the town in June – it’ll be the 12th Bun Throwing I’ve been to since 1980 and the town’s 33rd since 1761.

Links:
- Abingdon Vale Cricket Club
- Abingdon Town Council
- The Felix Fund
- Macmillan Nurses
- War Widows Association
- Abingdon Blog
- Harry Dog Blog
- BBC News "Abingdon's Bun Throwing Championships"
Abingdon Herald "Bun throwing ceremony needs some champion chuckers"
- Oxford Mail "Hot cross buns"
- Oxfordshire Guardian "Abingdon to host inaugural bun throwing championship"
- Abingdon Blog "Inaugural World Bun Throwing Championships – world record broken – unofficially"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Report from the last Bun Throwing & Bun Throwing Timeline 1761 to 2011

A report from the 2011 Royal Bun Throwing in Abingdon and an updated timeline of all the recorded Bun Throwings in Abingdon from 1761 to 2011 can be viewed here.

Writing about Bun Throwing for the 'Smitten by Britain' blog

New guest blog post for Smitten by Britain website now online.

You can check out a piece I've written about the Abingdon-on-Thames tradition of Bun Throwing for the excellent blog Smitten By Britain at "Bun Throwing in Abingdon-on-Thames".

Smitten by Britain is a blog all about the best of British and is run by American Britophile Melissa Stoey. The website covers subjects including books, culture, food & drink, history, sports and travel - it's the home of the Britophile and all things British.

Link:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

World Bun Throwing Championships - Update

More information about the upcoming Royal Bun Throwing Championships announced.

Further details on the first-ever Royal Bun Throwing Championships have been announced on the Abingdon Vale Cricket Club website. The club will be the host venue for the event, that is also being called the World Bun Throwing Championships!

The poster for the event (below) also states that the event is the 'First Annual Bun Throwing Championships'. So, a great new tradition will begin on the 14th of April 2012. The traditional Bun Throwing spectacle is not an annual event, but instead takes place to mark special national or royal events and milestones. The 2012 Bun Throwing is taking place to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Poster for the first-ever World Bun Throwing Championships

The competition will cost entrants £1 per Bun Thrown with all of the proceeds going to the Mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames' three charities - the Felix Fund, Macmillan Nurses and the War Widows Association.

The 33rd Bun Throwing will be taking place in Abingdon-on-Thames on Sunday 3rd June 2012. The winners of the World Bun Throwing Championships will get the chance to become a Bun Thrower atop the old County Hall!

Related Blog Post:

Links:

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Latest News on the 2012 Royal Bun Throwing in Abingdon-on-Thames

Number of buns to be thrown announced and details of the first Royal Bun Throwing Championship

The 33rd Bun Throwing will be taking place in Abingdon-on-Thames on Sunday 3rd June 2012 and a total of 6,000 buns will be thrown to the crowd in the town’s market place. The event is being held to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The traditional event is unique to Abingdon-on-Thames and the first throw took place in 1761 to celebrate the Coronation of King George III. The next Bun Throwing didn’t take place until 1810 to mark the King’s Golden Jubilee. Last year the Marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton saw a Bun Throwing take place. Prior to that event the last two Bun Throwings were held in 2006 to mark the 450th Anniversary of Abingdon receiving its Charter, the first that year also marked the Queen’s Official Birthday, while the second event was held during a visit to the town by HRH the Princess Royal.

On Saturday 14th April the first-ever Royal Bun Throwing Championship will be taking place at Abingdon Vale Cricket Club on Culham Road between 2pm and 4pm. The tournament will see competitors paying a £1 fee per bun to attempt the furthest throw. The winners will receive the opportunity to join the Mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames – Councillor Mike Badcock - and other dignitaries atop the old County Hall as a Bun Thrower at the main event on Sunday 3rd June. A junior competition will also be taking place with the winner receiving the Junior Bun Throwing Trophy.

The Mayor has also announced that a small test event has already taken place at the Abingdon Vale Cricket Club to see how much space is required and to look at the aerodynamic qualities of the buns!

Last year a raffle was held to choose a winner to become a bun thrower.

Related Blog Posts:

Links:

From Abingdon to Abingdon-on-Thames

A new name for Britain's oldest town

My hometown of Abingdon has reverted to its old name of Abingdon-on-Thames following a successful bid put forward to the Vale of White Horse District Council by the town council.

In 1974 Abingdon-on-Thames was moved from Berkshire into Oxfordshire following boundary changes. That year also saw the ‘on-Thames’ suffix dropped from the name.

The name change came into effect on Thursday 23rd of February 2012.

Link:
- "It's all change at Abingdon-on-Thames", Oxford Mail

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A new ‘Royal Bun Throwing Championships’ to be held at Abingdon Vale Cricket Club

My brother Jon who still lives in my hometown of Abingdon sent me details from the Oxford Mail (and Abingdon Herald) about a brand new event that will be taking place later this year – a Royal Bun Throwing Championships!

Since 1761, Abingdon has carried out the wonderful and unique tradition of Bun Throwing to celebrate Royal events, or mark significant milestones.

The new Mayor of the town, Mike Badcock, has teamed up with Abingdon Vale Cricket Club to create the new Royal Bun Throwing Championships to find the town’s best bun throwers, who will join Councillors and other dignitaries atop the old County Hall (now the town's Museum) at the next Royal Bun Throwing to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June. The reasoning is that for those people who are at the back of the Market Place during the Bun Throwing rarely catch many buns!

The old County Hall in Abingdon - the Bun Throwers launch the buns from a great height!

The new event sounds brilliant. I love the fact that Abingdon has Bun Throwing as a tradition and adding the new element of the separate Throwing Championships is a great idea.

I have attended all of the Bun Throwing events in my lifetime, twelve to date, with the last taking place on Friday 29th April 2011 to celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Chris Gottfried, me (Richard Gottfried) & Jon Gottfried proudly show off our Buns after the 2011 Royal Bun Throwing

On more than one occasion I have seen Bun Throwers use other means to deliver buns to the crowd – including tennis rackets and catapults! Some catchers also go to great lengths to catch a bun, with some people using upturned umbrellas! There’s always plenty of jostling amongst the townsfolk too as it is such a great achievement to be able to walk away with a special Bun.

I have been informed by the Town Council that The Royal Bun Throwing Championship will be taking place at Abingdon Vale Cricket Club on Culham Road between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday 14th April. The event will see competitors paying a fee to attempt to thrown the buns the furthest (with proceeds going to the Mayor’s three charities).

Further details will be advertised in the next issue of the town’s Spring Town Crier council newsletter (w/c 20th February).

I can’t wait to give it a go.