Saturday, 5 January 2013
The Haxey Hood
The highlight of the year for many folk from these parts is the ancient tradition of the Haxey Hood.
This takes place on 6th January each year, unless it falls on a Sunday, then it's held on the Saturday.
It dates back to the 14th Century (making it one of the oldest traditions in England) when the Lady de Mowbray, wife of a local landowner, was out horse riding between the villages of Westwoodside and Haxey and her silk riding hood was blown by the wind into a field. The farmworkers in the field chased it around until one of them caught the hood. He was too shy to hand it back to the lady so he gave it to one of the other's to do so. Lady de Mowbray said that the worker who handed the hood back acted like a lord, and the one who was too shy, acted like a fool.
She was rather amused by it all and donated 13 acres of land in order that the chase for the hood could be re-enacted every year.
For anyone taking part it's pretty much a day of drinking and getting muddy, (and probably bruised).
The officials are The Fool, The Lord of the Hood, and The Boggins and they start early in the day touring the four local pubs singing and drinking, along with anyone else who cares to join them - and many do, the pubs are packed.
At about 2.30 they make their way up to Haxey church where the Fool makes a speech and a fire is lit behind him which is known as Smoking the Fool
He then leads the crowd up to the Hood field, which is on the hill between Haxey and Westwoodside.
Before the main event starts, 12 hessian sack hoods are thrown, which the children can chase and if any can get a hood to the edge of the field without being stopped by a Boggin, will get a reward of £2.
The main hood is represented by a leather tube and when this is thrown in the air, the idea is to get it to one of the four pubs of the two villages by 'swaying' it. This is just like a massive rugby scrum (anyone can join in) and usually takes hours.
Westwoodside has only one pub (The Carpenter's Arms) and Haxey has three, so you'd think the Carpenter's wouldn't stand a chance, especially as it's up hill to Westwoodside, but it's managed to get there a few times over the years.
The sway doesn't move very fast, with the opposite sides pushing in different directions, and when it collapses it has to be stopped and the bodies pulled out! It's all very friendly but there can be broken bones and bruises.
Today, despite the valiant efforts of the Carpenter's supporters, the Hood ended up going towards Haxey. Once it was past the point of no return there was no need to push as everyone's going in the same direction with all three pubs on the same street. For it to be claimed by the pub the landlord or landlady has to reach out and touch the hood, which is no mean feat with hundreds of people about and the landlord often having to be lifted up. Neither the landlord of the Duke William or The Loco managed to get it and it went all the way to the bottom of the village to the King's, where it will stay until next year.
Here's the Fool being interviewed for TV