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:
Join us on 2 February 2018 for an amazing Tasting Dinner at The Beach Hotel in Minehead to celebrate the first weekend of the 4th Exmoor Food Fest!
Amuse bouche by The Beach Hotel apprentices
Starter by Steven Hadley
Goats cheese mousse, caramelised walnuts, beetroots, apple & Thyme bread
Vegetable course by Kate Gardiner
Crostini of grilled polenta, porcini Mushrooms & Taleggio
Meat course by Sam Salway
Duo of Exmoor lamb, noisette, served pink (sous vide), braised shoulder, red cabbage puree, roasted celeriac and parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli, baked potato cake.
Fish course by Werner Hartholt
Soy marinated seabass with crispy lobster.
Dessert course by Andrew Richards
Chocolate and hazelnut parfait, hazelnut crumble, chocolate soil, coffee mouse and milk sorbet.
Petit Fours by Connor Bazley. Beach Hotel Apprentice.
£45.00 per person
Book 4 tickets or more:
£42.00 per person
Paul Waby shot this video during his recent trip to West Somerset.
Can you guess the locations?
The Old Ship Aground is delighted to announce the launch of – The Old Ship Aground ‘Be Proud of Minehead’ photographic campaign. A year long celebration of how lucky we all are to Live, Work and Play in this beautiful area.
We are inviting photographic entries that will proudly show case what we all enjoy and why we should all be proud of living in this friendly, vibrant, supportive community located beside the sea.
There are three different categories Under 16, Camera phone fun shots and an Open category.
With Cash Prizes totaling £1000 available to win. The photographs will be displayed on the dedicated Facebook page & on our website gallery pages inviting community engagement.
An exhibition of the short listed and winning pictures is planned for later in the year.
Full Terms & conditions of entry are available on The Old Ship Aground ‘Be Proud of Minehead’ Photographic competition tab on our Website www.theoldshipaground.com and you can view the dedicated Face Book Page at https://www.facebook.com/BeProudOfMineheadPhotographyCompetition/
Julian Abraham owner of The Old Ship Aground at Minehead Harbour said it’s all about the community standing tall, and what a great community we have, pulling together and saying look this is Minehead. I am delighted to do my bit and help show case this terrific town. With a competition to create a visual platform where everyone can share the pictures of what makes them proud, a true celebration of Minehead its history and surroundings.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Julian Abraham at 01643 703516 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors to Minehead can now get a bird’s eye view of the town, coast and countryside from this new the observation wheel which will be at the seafront for 8 weeks this summer.
The wheel, standing 33m high is open 10am-8pm. Tickets £5 for an adult, £4 for children and senior citizens and £15 for a family ticket.
Visitors to Minehead, in the heart of Exmoor, will now be able to travel on the West Somerset Railway, the largest heritage railway in the UK, with an all-in-one ticket as GWR trains complete a new ticket initiative.
The initiative sees the launch of a ‘one ticket’ solution enabling passengers to explore Britain’s longest heritage railway, the West Somerset Railway, with GWR rail and a local bus service fare included. The one ticket solution will include train travel from mainline stations and a connecting bus service (at present) from Taunton to Bishops Lydeard.
Visitors travelling from outside of Somerset could see significant savings with the removal of a peak time ticket restriction on a service from London.
Paul Conibeare, West Somerset Railway General Manager, has said; “We are delighted with this news. There has been months of planning and engagement between West Somerset Railway, the Visit Somerset team and the GWR team. This will be a huge boost for the WSR and the local economy”.
John Turner, Visit Somerset’s Chief Executive and member of the executive board for Exmoor Tourism said; “We have studied a previous example of this kind of development in East Grinstead on the Blue Bell Railway. Although it was a cross platform link we still believe that we can derive connections between the two schemes due to West Somerset Railway as an attraction being far larger. The Blue Bell team saw 60,000 more visitors and an increase of over a million pounds. With some extensive marketing for West Somerset Railway we will hope that we can see this type of increase over a five-year period”.
For more information on visiting Minehead visit the official Visit Exmoor website http://www.visit-exmoor.co.uk
Photo credit: Ian Brodie / Visit Somerset