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Kentish Hooden Horse


chas
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The attached picture is from a book published privately in Canterbury in 1909: The Hooden Horse, An East Kent Christmas Custom by Percy Maylam (whose family lived next door to my wife when she was a child) I've no idea whether it's in general circulation but thought it might be of interest. The original is not great and my scanning by no means expert but it clearly shows a concertina player with the hooden horse in Deal, East Kent. Hard to be sure of the system from the photo.

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Hard to be sure of the system from the photo.

I've struggled with much worse images, this one isn't too bad at all. It's clearly an Anglo with at least a partial third row of keys, and I notice the musician also has a bugle, not forgetting a driving whip... :huh:

 

 

Ive always thought it might be but never been certain. Glad someone else is so confident. Thanks, Stephen. (And I never forget my drive whip. ;)

 

Chas

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Nice photograph, many thanks for sharing it!

 

Dan

 

edited to add: for those wondering what this hooded horse thing is all about, look here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=C-AgcXdmt...JdNm_g#PPA94,M1

 

Apparently, there are written references to this practice going back to Saxon times (690 AD). By 1803, they were called 'hoden' or 'woden' horses in Kent....the author of the above text reckons it is about Woden, the Saxon version of Odin, who was hooded because he had only one eye. He goes on to say that the custom was present in Germany too....Odin's horse.

 

Of course, the concertina player could just have been out street busking for beer money, too!

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Of course, the concertina player could just have been out street busking for beer money, too!

 

Hi Dan,

 

The book that Chas mentions (by Maylam) says that the horse was traditionally accompanied by two musicians - one with triangle (or sometimes tambourine) and the other with concertina.

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Of course, the concertina player could just have been out street busking for beer money, too!

 

Hi Dan,

 

The book that Chas mentions (by Maylam) says that the horse was traditionally accompanied by two musicians - one with triangle (or sometimes tambourine) and the other with concertina.

 

Thanks, Dave. I was just joking about the beer busking.

I couldn't find the Maylam book online....is there any way you could write out the paragraph or so that describes the musicians?

Cheers,

Dan

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Thanks Dan. I see the book you link to quotes Maylam as a source. He too discusses the Woden idea, as well as Robin Hood connections. He refers to concertinas several times in the text but uses the word indiscriminately for the instrument in the Deal photograph and for the melodeons in the photographs of the Sarre and Walmer horses. Music seems to have been integral to the custom.

 

(Ah, while composing this, I see another comment - you know the book, too , Dave?)

 

My first morris side (Wantsum, in East Kent) used to dance at a pub which had an old hooden horse in an adjacent barn. Looked like nothing more than a large Punch and Judy crocodile!

 

Chas

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Page 3:

Following a description of the "mollie"..... There are generally two or three other performers besides, who paly the concertina, tambourine or instruments of that kind................. Singing of songs or carols is not usually part of the performance and no set words are spoken.

 

Other references are in descriptions of the photographs.

 

Chas

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Beware of Kents bearing gifts? Nawww, doesn't work.

 

I am surprised that the concertina is the traditional instrument for this kind of pre-Chrisitan ceremony. Would the original instrument have been the widely-feared Berzerkerkonzertina, which was the source for much of the Vikings' fearsome reputation?

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Does the hooden horse still turn out at christmas?

 

Not as far as I know though it may have been revived in the 30 years since I left the area.

 

As for Klingons, surely aliens use Hohner Double Ray guns.

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Does the hooden horse still turn out at christmas?

 

Not sure what you mean by this question.

 

A number of Kent morris sides are "followed" by an associated horse and I have seen some horses bent over like the picture rather than the more common upright dancing position. Some sides also have a nominated horse "trainer" (hence the whip). So these traditions do continue although my understanding is they are all revivalist.

 

There is an annual hop hodening service each year at Canterbury Cathedral.

 

:unsure: bizarrely I was reading the book that the photo was taken from on Tuesday morning in Cranbrook Library!

Edited by Peter Brook
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  • 2 months later...

Just happened on this post - I know it's old but anyway, I've registered just so I can answer it.

 

Does the hooden horse still turn out at christmas?

 

Yes we do (and have done for the last 40+ years). See www.hoodening.org.uk

 

A number of Kent morris sides are "followed" by an associated horse and I have seen some horses bent over like the picture rather than the more common upright dancing position.

 

There are indeed some morris teams who (in our view) have somewhat jumped on the Hoodening bandwagon, importing plays from Soul Caking (in Cheshire) and so on to expand their portfolio, and getting the horses to dance (e.g. the symbols of the Broadstairs Folk Festival), but the two groups who have directly inherited Hoodening traditions (St Nicholas and Deal) have nothing directly to do with the morris, and our horses definitely do not dance.

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There is an annual hop hodening service each year at Canterbury Cathedral.

 

 

The 2008 service took place last Saturday 13th September. Kettle Bridge Clogs were pleased to be invited.

 

We assembled in the precinct at 10:30 and processed into the cathedral. all sides played Winster Processional as we entered and again as we processed out at the end of the service. All performers were then permitted a free glass of Cathedral ale.

 

After the service we divided into 3 groups of 3 sides each and danced at various points around the city centre, one stand before lunch and one after. In mid-afternoon all groups came together again for a procession from the high Street to Rose square, where we had more dancing. then we adjourned to the nearby M & S cafe for tea and cake.

 

Some participants, principally our hosts and event organisers, Wantsum Morris, continued with more dancing at Sarre, about a further 10 miles away, in the evening. I did not stay on for that, but maybe next year...

 

Altogether a good day.

 

- John Wild

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