|Where:||Hungerford, Berkshire - at the Town Hall,High Street|
|When:||Hock Tuesday (the Tuesday of the week after Easter week)|
|Time:||From 8 am Bellman, 9am Court to about 10.30, lunch 1pm|
Way back in the Fourteenth Century, John of Gaunt gave Hungerford special hunting and fishing rights and the festival today is the commemoration and continuation of this by the townsfolk – around 100 properties still have commoners rights and their owners are the Commoners of the court. On Hocktide Day the festivities begin with the appearance of the Bellman on the Town Hall balcony at 8am, summoning the Commoners to Court, then perambulating the town. The special court is held upstairs at the Town Hall in the morning chaired by the Constable, whilst two nattily dressed Tuttimen (who carry flower-decorated poles with an orange on top) call at the commoners’ houses around the town accompanied by the Orangeman and Tutti Wenches, giving out oranges and asking for donations or kisses en route throughout the day. Tuttimen are so-called regardless of gender!The tasty Commoners Lunch takes place during the afternoon at the Corn Exchange on the ground floor of the Town Hall : expect speeches, toasts and the tasty but lethal Plantagenet Punch. The meal is followed by Shoeing the Colts, during which first-time visitors have a horsehoe nailed to their heel by the blacksmith until they call “Punch”. The residents particularly enjoy watching Colts being wrestled to the ground for their shoeing, but they’re gentler with ladies who get to sit on a chair (or, as in my case, get carried to it!). After the fun and frolics, anchovies on toast are served at the Three Swans across the road from 5pm then further serious drinking takes place with the return of the Tuttimen from their rounds around 9pm. The local band also play free of charge during the evening at the Corn Exchange.
Hocktide is the Monday and Tuesday in the week following Easter Monday (so Hock Monday is exactly a week after Easter Monday) and can fall anytime between the end of March and early May depending on the year.
In 2017 it will be on Tuesday 25th April.
The associated Constables Sunday parade takes place on the Sunday following Tutti Day, at 10.45 am, from the Town Hall to St Lawrence’s Church for a special service.
Anyone can turn up on the day to watch the Bellman and the Tutti Procession around town and attend the Court as a Visitor (all free of charge) but you need tickets for the Lunch as places are limited – see link below. Try to make contact sooner than we did – I rang on the preceding Friday and eventually managed to get 2 tickets but you might not be so lucky! In 2014 the tickets were £34 and the Shoeing costs £5 for your horseshoe (dress smart-casual to lounge suits). The Common-raised Aberdeen Angus was the best I’ve ever tasted and the charming company was second to none- all were very welcoming. It’s a unique and special custom and the people of Hungerford are very lucky to be part of it. My particular thanks go to the Bossoms, Kathy and Tyrrell, who looked after us so well and really made us feel a part of the day.
Visit this page for more on what happens : http://www.hungerfordvirtualmuseum.co.uk/Themes/Town_and_Manor/Hocktide_and_Tutti-Day/hocktide_and_tutti-day.html
and this one for a schedule and details of how and when to buy tickets: http://www.townandmanor.co.uk/html/events.html
Thanks also to Ross Parish for recommending the Lunch – visit this page for his account of a visit : http://traditionalcustomsandceremonies.wordpress.com/?s=hungerford