The Chelsea Bun House

The Bun House in Chelsea

The old Chelsea Bun House was a shop in Chelsea which sold buns in the 18th century. It was famous for its Chelsea bun and also did a great trade in hot cross buns at Easter. It was patronised by royalty such as Kings George II, George III and their family.


The Bun House i Chelsea - Interior

It was on Jew’s Row, by Grosvenor Row, on the main road from Pimlico to Chelsea, near Ranelagh Gardens. It seems to have started business early in the 18th century as Jonathan Swift wrote in his journal to Stella on 28 April 1711:

Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas - detailA fine day, but begins to grow a little warm; and that makes your little fat Presto sweat in the forehead. Pray, are not the fine buns sold here in our town; was it not Rare Chelsea buns? I bought one to-day in my walk; it cost me a penny; it was stale, and I did not like it, as the man said, &c.

Over a hundred years later, Sir Richard Phillips wrote in A Morning’s Walk from London to Kew:

Sir Richard PhillipsBefore me appeared the shops so famed for Chelsea buns, which, for above thirty years, I have never passed without filling my pockets. In the original of these shops, for even of Chelsea buns there are counterfeits, are preserved mementos of domestic events, in the first half of the past century. The bottle-conjuror is exhibited in a toy of his own age; portraits are also displayed of Duke William and other noted personages; a model of a British soldier, in the stiff costume of the same age; and some grotto-works, serve to indicate the taste of a former owner, and were perhaps intended to rival the neighbouring exhibition at Don Saltero’s. These buns have afforded a competency, and even wealth; to four generations of the same family; and it is singular, that their delicate flavour, lightness and richness, have never been successfully imitated. The present proprietor told me, with exultation, that George the Second had often been a customer of the shop; that the present King, when Prince George, and often during his reign, had stopped and purchased his buns; and that the Queen, and all the Princes and Princesses, had been among his occasional customers.

The family to which he referred was the Hand family who had succeeded David Loudon as proprietors. Richard Hand was known as “Captain Bun”. His wife, Mrs. Hand, ran the business after his death. QueenCaroline - 1820Queen Caroline, who had brought her children there, presented Mrs. Hand with a silver mug containing five guineas. Upon her death, her son ran the business and he also supplied butter to local customers. When he died too, his older brother took over. He was a retired soldier — a poor knight of Windsor — and, like his brother, was eccentric. There were no more Hands so, on his death in 1839, the property reverted to the Crown and the contents were auctioned off.


The Bun House in ChelseaOn Good Friday, it was a tradition for the working classes, such as servants and apprentices, to buy a hot cross bun. The Greenwich Fair was the most well-known Easter fair in London, but great crowds would also assemble on the Five Fields — an open space which was subsequently developed as Eaton and Belgrave Squares to form Belgravia. The bun house would open for business as early as three or four in the morning and the crowds would press on it so fiercely that buns would only be sold through openings in the shutters. Constables were required to keep good order and, in 1792, the crowd was so great that Mrs Hand made a public announcement that there would be no sales of hot cross buns in the following year,

Royal Bun House, Chelsea, Good Friday

No Cross Buns.

Mrs. Hand respectfully informs her friends and the public, that in consequence of the great concourse of people which assembled before her house at a very early hour, on the morning of Good Friday last, by which her neighbours (with whom she has always lived in friendship and repute) have been much alarmed and annoyed; it having also been intimated, that to encourage or countenance a tumultuous assembly at this particular period might be attended with consequences more serious than have hitherto been apprehended; desirous, therefore, of testifying her regard and obedience to those laws by which she is happily protected, she is determined, though much to her loss, not to sell Cross Buns on that day to any person whatever, but Chelsea buns as usual.

This restraint did not last and so, on its final Good Friday of 1839, the bun house sold almost quarter of a million hot cross buns.

Chelsea Buns / Chelsea Boller

A classic baking recipefoomd in Good Housekeeping’s
“Cookery Book” published in 1976

chelsea buns_post

traditional badge british_flatThe Chelsea bun is a type of currant bun that was first created in the 18th century at the Bun House in Chelsea, an establishment favoured by Hanoverian royalty, which was demolished in 1839.

The bun is made of a rich yeast dough flavoured with lemon peel, cinnamon or mixed spice. Prior to being rolled into a square spiral shape the dough is spread with a mixture of currants, brown sugar and butter. The process of making this bun is very similar to that involved in producing the cinnamon roll. After being cooked traditionally the chelsea bun is glazed with cold water and honey. It is glazed while still hot so the water evaporates and leaves the honey, making the bun much sweeter.


Kapuziner Puffs / Kapuzinere

A recipe for some delicious small Danish puffs found in
the international food encyclopedia “Menu” published by
Lademann in 1976



Saffron Buns with Custard / Safranboller med Vaniljekrem

A delicious juicy bun recipe found on
Safranboller med vaniljekrem_godt_post

Yeast baking with saffron looks great and smells wonderful and is certainly not reserved just for “lussekatter” the traditionally Scandinavian cakes made for Saint Lucy’s Day. Here you got big round saffron buns filled with custard. The taste of saffron and vanilla goes very well together, so this is a very successful combination.


What A Spread / For En Oppdekking

A series of recipes from an ad for Fleichmann’s Yeast
published in Catelaine magazine in 1958
bread_Chatelaine mag_fleishmanns yeast_1958_post


Orange Blossoms / Appelsinblomst

Nice marmalade filled buns found on melk.no266_appelsinblomst_post

Marmalade is fine filling for buns. Here the dough is shaped like a flower. The buns are well suitable for freezing.

000_recipe_eng_flagg Recipe in English 000_recipe_nor_flagg Oppskrift på norsk

Recipe posted at:

Apple And Cinnamon Buns / Eple Og Kanel Boller

A delicious, juicy bun recipe found on brodogkorn.no567_Eple Og Kanel Boller_post

A slightly different cinnamon bun with juicy apple pieces. Easy to bring on picnic or to the beach when you fancy something nice to go with the tea or coffee.

000_recipe_eng_flagg Recipe in English  000_recipe_nor_flagg Oppskrift på norsk

Recipe posted at:
Tickle My Tastebuds Tuesday[4]TuesdaysTable copyTreasure Box Tuesday[4]

Rye Buns / Rugboller

Classic Norwegian rye buns found on tine.no222_Rugboller_post

Put these lovely rye buns on a plate on the lunch table, or make sandwiches with your favourite spread for a nice picnic. You can impress with these “wholesome” buns this weekend.

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Recipe posted at:

Christmas Goats From Fogn / Julegeiter Fra Fogn

A recipe for a  traditional Norwegian Christmas bun
found on
Jærbladet583_Julegeiter Fra Fogn_post

The Christmas goat is a pre-Christian symbol found on many old Christmas cards. It was believed that the Christmas goat came to the farms before Christmas to checked if everything was taken care of there and that the feedstuff for the animals was brought indoors and food for the people was plentiful in the storehouses.

If everything was alright the goat headed back for the mountains and did not come back again until next Christmas. But if everything was not spick and span the goat made a terrible commotion. In the old days children on the farms were told that the Christmas goat would come for them if they did not behave properly.

The buns got their name because an incision is cut in the buns to make them look like a goat hoof.

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Recipe posted at:

Sunshine Buns/ Solskinnsboller

Classic Norwegian comfort food buns found on godt.no515_Solskinnsboller_post

We are in a season with a lot of outdoor activity here in Norway now, kids here love the snow. If you got children in the house,  a whole bunch neighbour kids usually tag along if there is a chance of some or buns somewhere. Then it is nice  to have made a small mountain of these succulent sunshine buns, made with cinnamon, sugar and custard.

You can add a thin layer of icing on top, but it is not at all necessary, these buns really tastes best without. To get a caramel-like flavour and a crunchy brittle you can brush the dough with a thin layer of butter and sprinkle with demerara and of course sprinkled with a little cinnamon in the process.

You can choose if you want to make the custard yourself or buy it readymade. Do not cut the dough pieces too large. They should be a little thin and flat. I doubt that you will have many left when the kids head out again,  but if it should happen that can put them in the freezer.

000_recipe_eng_flagg Recipe in English  000_recipe_nor_flagg Oppskrift på norsk

Recipe posted at:
Tickle My Tastebuds Tuesday[4]TuesdaysTable copyTreasure Box Tuesday[4]

Big Shrovetide Buns / Store Fastelavnsboller

A classic Norwegian shrovetide recipe found on godt.no416_Store Fastelavnsboller_post

One of the clear food trends we see in Norway today is the idea of going back to the traditional terms of both dishes, techniques and ingredients. But often with a modern twist.

Here is a traditional recipe for buns served at Shrovetide in the past. It was common in my childhood but disappeared somehow eventually. Fortunately, they are on the way back –Ted

000_recipe_eng_flagg Recipe in English  000_recipe_nor_flagg Oppskrift på norsk

Recipe posted at:
Tickle My Tastebuds Tuesday[4]TuesdaysTable copyTreasure Box Tuesday[4]

Laup – Traditional Norwegian Pastry / Laup – Tradisjonelt Bakeverk Fra Trønderlag

A traditional bun recipe from Trøndelag in Central Norway
found on ThorNews

154_thornewsAnette Broteng Christiansen at ThorNews writes: Laup are large, flat buns baked with rye flour and anise. They originate from Trøndelag in Central Norway. It is common to eat Laup for breakfast or lunch, and it tastes perfect with traditional Norwegian Brunost (brown cheese), raspberry jam and a hot cup of tea. They are similar to Scones, but Laup has a distinct taste because of the rye flour and anise. Laup definitely tastes best fresh from the oven, but can be frozen.
      Unfortunately, the story behind these delicious buns is unknown, but they are considered traditional pastry in Trøndelag.

000_recipe_eng_flagg Recipe in English  000_recipe_nor_flagg Oppskrift på norsk

Recipe posted at:

Filled Savoury Buns / Fylte Snadderrundstykker

Here’s a recipe for some great tasting buns filled with fried onions, bacon, cheese and thyme. Just the thing with a nice cup of tea or as an evening snack.

See this and lots of other delicious recipes on:

Buns For Hiking / Turbrød

Great buns for hiking found in “Norsk Ukeblads Store Bakebok” (Norsk Ukeblad’s Large Book on Baking) published by Ernst G Mortensen’s Forlag in 1984

Norwegians loves the outdoors, and a week end without a hike or a some other outdoor activity is a wasted week end for us.

These are hearty buns with cheese filling perfect for a hike in the woods. No extra butter needed. Just as good with a cup of cocoa, tea or coffee.


See this and lots of other delicious recipes on:

Breakfast Bread With Wheat Bran / Frokostbrød Med Hvetekli

A nice breakfast bread recipe found in “Norsk Ukeblads Store Bakebok” (Norsk Ukeblad’s Large Book on Baking) published by Ernst G Mortensen’s Forlag in 1984

frokostbrød med hvetekli_post 


See this and lots of other delicious recipes on:
Treasure Box Tuesdaythe-weekend-social-badge-small-msp-1Tickle My Tastebuds Tuesday