Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hallaton bottle kicking

Unmitigated England has been to Hallaton for the bottle kicking and hare pie scrambling:
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.

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.
Just an average day in Leicestershire.


dreamingspire said...

Know anything about any recent raids on neighbouring villages to steal the Maypole? A story passed down in my family is of one such raid, to the east of Leeds, probably in the 1920s, and the suggestion is that my father was involved. Material on the web focuses on the Barwick-in-Elmet Maypole being the target.

Eben Marks said...

I was hoping to make it to the bottle-kicking this year, I'm in my last year at the University of Leicester and the block I lived in in 1st year was named for Medbourne. Lack of time and transport stopped me. Hopefully I'll remember about it some future Easter when I have a car.