Easter Monday for centuries has seen local (and not so local) lads fall down the fields in a mass of thrashing arms and legs in order to put a bottle (in fact a small wooden keg) over a stream that runs in a deep cleft to the south of the village.Just an average day in Leicestershire.
This is pagan rivalry, an annual contest of brute force between Hallaton and the neighbouring village of Medbourne, shrouded in ritual and very, very, tribal.
It starts with the cutting-up and distribution of a Hare Pie at the church gates, a blessing of be-ribboned bottles on the Butter Cross followed by a bagpiped parade headed-up by a man in green velvet with a Kit William's style hare on a pole. And a girl looking like an Ovaltine Dairy Maid who throws buns at the crowd from a wicker basket.
Even more beer is put away, and then everyone troops up Hare Pie Bank to where the 'kicking' begins.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Hallaton bottle kicking
Unmitigated England has been to Hallaton for the bottle kicking and hare pie scrambling: