Retro: The good old days of the Haxey Hood

It is one of Britain's oldest and most fascinating traditions '“ and by the time you ready this, the annual rough and tumble of the centuries old Haxey Hood will have come to its muddy, bruising and beer-fuelled conclusion for another year.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 10:22 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 11:40 am
Haxey Hood in 1986. Pictured l-r are Lord of the Hood Stan Boor, chief boggin Arthur Clarke, and Gary Stevens. Picture: Liz Mockler E1712LM

For January 6 is Haxey Hood day – the day when part of the Isle of Axholme goes a bit crazy to mark one of England’s oldest sporting contests.

Regulars from four pubs go head to head in a marathon battle to get the famed Hood into their favoured watering hole in the traditional contest which has been going strong for more than 700 years.

Sam Wall pictured in the sway in 1988. Picture: Liz Mockler E1714LM

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The official story is that in the 14th century, Lady de Mowbray, wife of Isle landowner, John De Mowbray, was out riding towards Westwoodside on the hill that separates it from Haxey.

As she went over the hill her silk riding hood was blown away.

Thirteen farm workers rushed to help and chased the hood all over the field.

It was finally caught by one of the workers, but being too shy to hand it back, he gave it to one of the others to hand back to her.

Sam Wall pictured in the sway in 1988. Picture: Liz Mockler E1714LM

She thanked the one who returned the hood and said that he had acted like a Lord, whereas the worker who had actually caught the hood was a Fool.

So amused was she by the scene, she donated 13 acres of land on condition that the chase for the hood would be re-enacted each year.

The day sees all the ancient traditions marked – from the Smoking of the Fool ceremony to the children’s game using sack hoods before the annual bruising encounter, known as The Sway, gets under way in earnest with pub regulars from Haxey and Westwoodside doing battle in the muddy fields.

And as these nostalgic pictures show, it has become a long-standing tradition – and one which is sure to last many more years yet.