Baking Mad


Hogarth print

There’s a lot of talk of baking at the moment – I’m quite partial to the occasional Victoria Sponge – but I’m no baker – you?

It has however made me dig out and dust off a print I have,  which I’m rather fond of.  It is a trade card for Richard Hand – The Oldest Original Chelsey Bunn Baker an etching thought to have been designed by William Hogarth.

The Old Chelsea Bun House

The building was painted by Frederick Napoleon Shepherd in 1839 just before it was demolished

Here is the old Chelsea Bun House where Richard Hand baked and sold his buns.   It became famous for its Chelsea Buns and also for hot-cross buns at Easter and was patronised by royalty, George II and George III and their families.  Richard Hand became known as ‘Captain Bun’.  After his death Mrs Hand took over and successfully ran the business.

Painting of interior of Chelsea Bun House

Painting of the interior of Chelsea Bun House in 1938 from the collection of the British Museum

I wonder if the Hand family weren’t a little eccentric – inside the Chelsea Bun House were clocks, curiosities, models, paintings and statues as museum pieces – plenty for the waiting customers to enjoy!  In time the two sons took over the business, but when they died there were no more Hands, so the property reverted to the Crown and the contents were auctioned off.

Do you suppose they were having a big promotion at the Kings Arms, or were opening up another shop?  It is a rather special business card anyway.




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