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



  1. Oh WOW, what a tradition. I love how the people of England have lots of quirky traditions which are continued centuries later. It looks like heaps of fun.
    Anne xx

  2. I don't think I could cope with the mud!!! :) x

  3. Oh my goodness, what a day the history behind it Georgia.
    I imagine there would be a few battered and bruised bodies and some very sore heads the next day, but
    I'm sure everyone has a lot of fun.

    Claire :}

  4. Absolutely crazy and so English. Wonderful stuff!

  5. Thanks for sharing this lovely tradition with us. It sounds great fun.
    Patricia x

  6. Love that story of the flyaway hood. What a brilliant day out.

  7. Now that looks a lot of fun! What a great tradition, so nice to see it is still attracting so many people, fantastic!

  8. Ive never heard of this - i'll have to ask hubby about it as he is a Donny lad. xxxxx (PS it all looks a bit mental and very dangerous!!!) xxxx

  9. Thats a tradition and a half! Hope the children get lots of £2, but I wouldnt like to be in the middle of that from the comfort of the pub!!

  10. I love these traditions, it is like the rush rating where we live, and what fun they are...well if you like drinking and getting muddy! Xxx

  11. It looks like lots of fun! I wouldn't mind watching and then retiring to the nearest pub for a pint!

  12. Fascinating - I love the smoking the fool picture - so atmospheric with the misty silhouettes in the background

  13. Oh my! I have just discovered this today. I grew up in Westwoodside, went over the hill to school every day and went to the Hood every year. Where are you? I now live in Rutland after living abroad for many years. Sue.x

  14. And my friends parents ran the Carpenter's Arms!!