Blog post, Englishness
Comment 1

From a long line of Barmpots

The Fool holding the Hood at Haxey

The English are odd. I can say that because I’m English and as for odd, well, I’ll let you judge for yourself. Being eccentric is not a new phenomenon here on the British Isles. We’ve been at it for centuries. Each of us is descended from a long line of ‘Barmpots’*.

*In the dialect of the Black Country – in the midlands of England – a Barmpot is described thus:-

Word: Barmpot.
Translation: silly.
Meaning: A silly person.
Example: “You’re a bit of a barmpot”.

I was minded to publish this post after I had read ‘Once a year’ – Some Traditional British Customs – by Homer Sykes. It’s a photo book, with pictures dating back to the 70’s (You can read my review of the book here ). The book contains hundreds of images from events which take place once a year across Britain (mainly England). Well worth a read.

The first event in the book is the Haxey Hood held on the 6th of January each year in the little village of Haxey in the Isle of Axholme, an area on the borders of Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire. At 650 years old it’s likely to be the oldest surviving tradition in England. You can read more about it here…

I visited the Haxey Hood 30 years after Homer Sykes. These pictures are from the 2004 hood.

It all starts with hundreds of people descending on 4 local pubs. There’s lots of drinking and singing of traditional songs.
haxey20064

The ‘Boggins’ singing in one of the pubs. Haxey 2004 ©PD Barton 2016

The ‘Fool’ is carried to the village green
haxey20062

 

The “Fool” delivers his speech before he is ceremonially smoked.
haxey20063

 

The Lord of the Hood, and chief Boggin, watches as the Fool is smoked. He carries a willow staff with which he can call a halt to the proceedings when the ‘Sway’ collapses. A form of early health and safety.

haxey20066

The ‘Sway’, not unlike a large, uncontrolled Rugby scrum, made up of hundreds of players out in the fields. The ‘Hood’ is in there somewhere.

haxey20065

The event finishes between 2 and 4 hours later when the Hood is wrestled to one of the 4 village pubs and is handed to the landlord. That’s the end of the game, but not the drinking.

Peter Barton

2016

Advertisements

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Once a year: Homer Sykes | peterdbarton.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s