The Haxey Hood

I have just discovered this story of an event which still happens every year, commemorating Alina. It’s nice to know she is not completely forgotten.

When Alina was married to John de Mowbray, some time before 1322, she was out riding one day and passed through the village of Haxey. A sudden gust of wind blew her hat off, and the villagers chased after it. She rewarded those who returned her hat with strips of land and silly titles.

In remembrance, every January 6th, the event is re-enacted in a scrummage between the local public houses, called the Haxey Hood. My thanks to the Hambo Central blog for putting me on to it, where there is also a photo.

According to the North Lincolnshire Council web site, she named the person who returned it to her ‘The Lord of the Hood’, and the man who actually caught it but dared not hand it to her ‘The Fool.’ The rest were called Boggins, apparently because each time the hood changed hands during the chase she squealed in delight ” It’s boggined again.” She directed that the happening be restaged every year. All were to wear red jackets except The Fool, whose appearance was to be similar to that of a harlequin.

The event takes place on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, January 6 in a field in Haxey. It is believed to be Britain’s oldest traditional tussle. Proceedings are launched by the Fool from his stone in front of Haxey Parish Church, usually around 2.30pm, and include the ’smoking’ of the fool. He then leads the crowd up the hill for games for the children and the start of the main game at 3.30pm. The Hood, a long leather cylinder, is thrown into the air to launch the proceedings. When it falls the participants (regulars from the local public houses) swarm around it and attempt to sway the hood out of the field, through the streets and back to their favourite hostelry for a celebration and the honour of holding it for the coming year.

The game is refereed by the Lord of the Hood, helped by his Chief Boggin both dressed in scarlet hunting coats and hats decorated with flowers and plumes. The ceremonial Fool, and a bunch of Boggins in red sweaters keep order.

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