Haxey Hood 2023PA Media

Hundreds have turned out to take part in an ancient rugby-style game involving rival villagers after a two-year break during the pandemic.

The annual Haxey Hood game between pubs in the North Lincolnshire villages of Haxey and Westwoodside dates back to the 14th Century.

It involves large crowds of people facing off in a mass scrum to push a leather tube – known as the Hood.

Covid restrictions meant it could not take place in 2021 and 2022.

The game begins with the ceremonial fool, this year portrayed by James Chatwin, delivering a speech while a bonfire is lit behind him covering him in smoke.

Haxey Hood 2023

The Hood is then thrown into the crowd and rival teams compete to get it to their pub, however no-one is allowed to run with the hood and they are not allowed to throw it.

“It’s brilliant,” said Lord of the Hood Bill Coggan.

“It brings the villages together.

“It does what Christmas and new year doesn’t, everyone comes back for the Hood, they come from all over the world back to see family.”

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What is Haxey Hood?

Haxey Hood 2023

PA Media

  • The tradition is said to have started when Lady de Mowbray was out riding between Westwoodside and Haxey – between Gainsborough, Scunthorpe and Doncaster – when her silk riding hood was blown away by the wind
  • She is said to have been so amused to see local farm workers chasing it, she rewarded them land – on condition the chase be re-enacted every year
  • The story says the worker who caught the hood was too shy to approach her and handed it to a fellow worker to return
  • It is said Lady de Mowbray thanked the man who returned the hood and said he had acted like a lord. The worker who caught it was labelled a fool
  • The contest is held annually on the Twelfth Day of Christmas except when 6 January falls on a Sunday

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The victorious pub is allowed to display the 3ft (1m) hood for the rest of the year, in 2020 it was the Kings Arms in Haxey.

“It’s a big thing for the villages and for the pubs,” said landlord Jim Pinder.

“Everyone comes back to the winning pub so if you get the Hood you’ve got a big night.”

However, this year’s victorious pub was the Loco, also in Haxey.

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Source: BBC

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