Haxey Hood

Where: Haxey, Lincolnshire- procession from the Duke William pub to the Church
When: 6th January (if 6th falls on Sunday, the Hood takes place on Saturday 5th instead)
Time: Procession approx. 2.30, Fools Speech just after 2.30pm, games from approx 2.45


Haxey Hood is one of the ancient mass-participation festival games and is the earliest in the year, sometimes taking place in snow. Instead of a football, the players use “hoods” which are leather rope-filled tubes about 2 feet long; the villagers of Haxey and neighbouring Westwoodside compete to get the hood inside their pub to score. The winner’s pub gets to keep the Hood until the following year. The official legend behind the game is that it all started back in the Fourteenth Century when Lady de Mowbray dropped her hood and the locals chased and caught it; she was so amused by the event that she donated land to the village on condition that the event was re-enacted each year. Four factions play and their pubs are the Kings Arms, Duke William and the Loco which are all in Haxey and the Carpenters Arms in Westwoodside. The game is presided over by a team of  12 umpires called Boggins  dressed in red who are accompanied by a Fool wearing rags. Before the game, the Fool is ritually smoked (he’s not set on fire…not quite) while he makes a speech at the Mounting Stone outside the church. The games begin when the Hoods are thrown on Haxey Hill nearby, starting with the Sack Hoods which are thrown for the children – the winners who get their hood away from the Boggins receive a modest cash prize. The main event is the competition for the final Sway Hood – a huge scrum forms known as the Sway and it heaves back and forth as players strugle to get to their pubs with it. Play often continues well after dark.

Helpful Hints

The Hood is never held on a Sunday so when January 6th falls on a Sunday it moves instead to the day preceding (Saturday 5th). This happens next in 2019. In 2018 it will be on Saturday 6th as normal.

All ages are welcome.The pubs put plastic over their carpets before Haxey Hood day because otherwise they get covered in mud so be warned! In 2018 the Kings Arms is currently closed. It can be hazardous to enter the Sway especially when it lurches over (you wouldn’t want to be on the bottom of the pile). If you’re there in time you can join in the pre-match pub crawls  from just before noon at the Carpenters Arms, Westwoodside which feature the singing of traditional songs. Don’t park between the pubs or anywhere the game is likely to go as your vehicle may never be the same again!

Click here for the event website : http://www.wheewall.com/hood/index.php

Photo by Wobbler101.

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