Horn blower keeping age old tradition alive

0
Have your say

A horn blower from Harwood Dale has once again played his part in one of the oldest traditions on the Yorkshire Coast.

The building of the Penny Hedge in Whitby dates back to 1159, and is the result of a penance imposed upon three murderers centuries ago.

Lol Hodgson, bailiff of the manor of Fyling and Tim Osborne, horn blower, at the annual Penny Hedge ceremony in Whitby  w131619

Lol Hodgson, bailiff of the manor of Fyling and Tim Osborne, horn blower, at the annual Penny Hedge ceremony in Whitby w131619

The annual event, which takes place on the Whitby shoreline on the eve of Ascension Day, features a key role for Snaintondale Hunt member Tim Osborne.

For the last 17 years Mr Osborne has been horn blower for the bizarre ceremony, which sees the construction of a hedge infront of crowds gathered on the harbour side.

This year the job of building the hedge fell upon the bailiff of the manor of Fyling Lol Hodgson, who gathered up hazel sticks the night before, and who was chosen a member of the Manor of Fyling Court Leet which manages 700 acres of land on the North York Moors on behalf of Sir Frederick Strickland.

Once the hedge or horngarth was constructed, which took around 20 minutes, Mr Osborne blew the horn three times as the pair faced the oncoming tide, crying ‘Out on Ye’ three times, bringing the ceremony to a close which prompted a round of applause from the watching public.

The planting of the Penny Hedge''w131619a

The planting of the Penny Hedge''w131619a

The tradition dates back to the 1159, when the Abbot of Whitby imposed a penance on three hunters and on their descendants for all time, for murdering a hermit at Eskdaleside.

Before he died, the hermit forgave them and said he would spare their lives if they and their descendents would enact a penance.

Each year, on the eve of Ascension Day, they had to construct a short hedge from stakes woven together, able to withstand three tides. The tradition is now carried out by the occupiers of the land.

Mr Osborne said: “I just think it is really really important to keep these old traditions going, especially as its hundreds of years old.

“I don’t think people really make enough of it. It would be good to get school children down and teach them the story. We have got to keep things like this alive otherwise they will just disappear.”

Mr Hodgson added: “I really enjoy doing it and I feel very proud.

“It’s vital we keep such traditions going.”

The horn that Mr Osborne blows is reputed to be the original cow horn dating back to the beginning of the hedge making tradition. It is kept, along with a wooden mallet, in a safe at Buchanan and White Solicitors in Whitby.