The Minehead Sailor’s Hobby Horse

At 6am on May Day, the drums can be heard across Minehead…  The Sailor’s Hobby Horse will dance around town for three days .

Here is the official story:

It is an old May Day custom from The Quay, Minehead, which has continued for hundreds of years. The custom is so old that there is no accurate record of its commencement. In fact, the origin is lost in the mists of time.

The Sailor’s Hobby Horse comes out on the eve of May Day, and for the first three days of the month dances and frolics freely around the streets.

The Horse’s frame is made from withy sticks lashed together with tarred cord into the shape of a boat with a dome shaped head and a tin painted face. A mast is made fast to the head, and spliced to the after end is a length of rope with a cow’s tail made fast. The whole frame, head and rope tail is covered with brightly coloured ribbons, and attached and draped to the ground from the frame are sacks brightly painted with different coloured rings. This is the so-called “Horse”.

The “Horse” weighs about one-hundred weight. It is carried by one man dances to the sound of melodions and drums, and if folks fail to give the “Horse” a coin, the “Horse” aims it tail at them.

The Sailor’s Horse is accompanied by a drum which has dates back to the 17th century. It is legend that the original intention of the “Horse” was to scare away Danes and other invaders from the coast.

It is an important custom that the “horse” proceeds from The Quay over the hill through Old Minehead Town, knows as Higher Town, to arrive at White Cross at 6am on May 1st.

It has been known for one of the Bratton Maids to be crowned Queen of the May at this time; and it is legend that on that day and at that time a Dane was killed there.  Also on this day it is a custom for the ‘Horse to proceed to Dunster Castle’.

On the third night there is a booting at Cher Steep, on the outskirts of Minehead, when victims are caught in the street and are booted ten times by the heavy fore bow of the “horse” while  being held by the arms and legs by two members of the crew. There is then a further penalty for the victim to dance with the “Horse” while avoiding being lashed by its tail.

The booting is then repeated in Wellington Square, in the centre of town. and it is here that the old “horse” take his final bow of the festive season and after a light refreshment returns to his stable at The Quay until the following May Day Eve.

By invitation the “Horse” and its attendants have appeared twice at The Royal Albert Hall, London, The Commonwealth Institute London, The Universities of London and Exeter, two of the World Trade Fairs, at Brussels in Belgium and Olympia in London, the television programme “Pebble Mill at One” from Birmingham and The Assembly Rooms, Derby. The spectacle has been filmed for television and other purposes on numerous occasions.

THose connected with the “Horse” give their services freely. Money collected and donations received are disbursed to Minehead Mencap and the Minehead branch of the RNLI.

You can follow the Minehead Hobby Horse on Facebook.  Here are some photos from the Official Minehead Sailor’s Hobby Horse FB page:

 

Photo of the Week

We know it’s only Tuesday, but how can this beautiful photo be possibly topped????*

This photo of Fred the cat on a fence at Lynton overlooking Lynmouth bay caught our eye on Instagram (posted by @milo_and_dougal)

*we’re happy to be convinced otherwise! If you think there is another photo deserving of the title “Photo of the Week”, just post it on our Facebook page or tag us on Twitter or Instagram. You can also email it to exmoor4all@gmail.com

 

Date for your Diary: “The Guardians” at Stogumber Cinema

Date of Event: Friday, 1st March 2019

Location of Event: Stogumber Village Hall, Stogumber, Taunton, TA4 3TG

Website: www.stogumber.org.uk

The Guardians (Certificate 15) is the next film presented by Stogumber Cinema. It is directed by Xavier Beauvois and concentrates on those left behind rather than the battles being fought at the Front.

It is an affecting human drama of love, loss, and resilience. The women of the Paridier farm, under the deft hand of Hortense, the family’s matriarch (Nathalie Baye,) grapple with the workload while the men are off at the front. Hortense reluctantly brings in an outsider, a teenage orphan, Francine (Iris Bry), to help her daughter Solange (Laura Smet). Newfound independence is acquired, yet emotions are stirred especially when the men return from the front on short leaves. French with English subtitles.

Doors open at 7pm when a short film or trailer for the next film, Bohemian Rhapsody showing on Friday 5th April, will be screened with the main feature film starting at 7:30pm. Refreshments will be available including Styles ice-creams, tea, coffee and a range of drinks from the bar. Tickets are available from stogumbercinema@gmail.com or on the door, £5 adults, £3 accompanied under 16s.

An Audience with G. D. Abson, author or “Motherland”

G. D. Abson, author of “Motherland” will be at the Exmoor Store on 16 February 2019 from 2pm till 3pm.

Headshot of writer Garry Abson by Photographer Jonathan Bowcott

G.D. (alias Garry David) was born in County Durham and brought up on army bases in Germany and Singapore before returning to the UK. He developed a lifelong obsession with Russia after studying the revolution at school and Russian politics at university. He is the author of MOTHERLAND, the first in a series featuring Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova battling crime, chauvinism and corruption in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

 Motherland was shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and this Summer the novel was a “Star Pick” in The Times/Sunday Times Crime Club.

This is what people had to say about the gripping crime thriller set in the dark heart of Putin’s Russia:

‘The dark heart of Putin’s Russia beneath the glitz of St Petersburg provides the heady setting for this excellent and gripping debut. Abson, who was shortlisted for a Crime Writers Debut Dagger for Motherland, is surely a name to watch. A Child 44 for Putin-land, this classy page-turner oozes with atmosphere.’ –David Young, bestselling author of STASI CHILD and STASI WOLF

‘Senior Detective Natalya Ivanova does for St Petersburg what Martin Cruz Smith s Arkady Renko did for Gorky Park… taut, fast-moving and compellingly believable.’ –Tom Callaghan, author of A KILLING WINTER

‘Gripping, authentic and fast-paced this is a fine thriller that will delight fans of Martin Cruz Smith.’ –William Ryan, author of THE HOLY THIEF and THE BLOODY MEADOW

ORDER YOUR TICKET HERE