Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

Lincolnshire - the Haxey Hood, Plough Jaggers and Hobby Horses

Yesterday being Epiphany was the day for the annual Haxey Hood. This is a contest with few discernible rules played by the villagers of Haxey and Westwoodside in the Isle of Axholme in the north west of Lincolnshire.It is said to commemorate the loss by Lady Mowbray, whose husband was the lord of Axholme, of her hood in the early fourteenth century. The traditional story of its origins and of yesterday’s resumption of the tradition after a lockdown induced gap for two years is recounted in a report from BBC News at Haxey Hood in triumphant post-Covid return

Whether the story of Lady Mowbray’s hood is the origin is doubtless lost in folk memory. It may be, at least in part, a rough and tumble game to mark the feast and to get the village lads fit after the Christmas break and ready for a return to agricultural labour.

Haxey is also the second best preserved surving example, after Laxton in Nottinghamshire, of open field agriculture.

I recently came upon an interesting online article  from 2018 bay Lincolnshire student about midwinter village customs such as Plough Jagging and mummers with hobby horses in the north of the county - the Parts of Lindsey - in the late nineteenth century. His work drew on the collection of the North Lincolnshire Museum. Lincolnshire is also blessed with the excellent resources of the Museum of Lincolnshire Life in Lincoln itself which preserves a great collection of material about rural life in the county.

I blogged recently about similar customs in other parts of the country in Christmas Past and in Christmas Mummers and Wren Day

In a similar vein BBC News website also reported on the Boxing Day Sword Dance at Grenoside on the edge of Sheffield which goes back at least two centuries in Sword dancers perform in Boxing day tradition

Thinking about it I wonder if my north Lincolnshire maternal ancestors took part in such frolics when they were living there in the nineteenth century.

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