HOCKTIDE

Hocktide and Tutti Day – a time for celebrating, ale tasting and Tutti folk.
One of England’s best known and most ancient customs, medieval Hocktide is the also the most important event in the life of the Town & Manor of Hungerford, and takes place annually on the second Tuesday after Easter.
It’s believed that Hungerford is the only place where this festival continues to be marked and celebrated.
The whole celebration spans 2 weeks, and encompasses the selection of the Hocktide Jury, Ale Tasting, Tutti Day (also known as Hock Tuesday or Hockney Day), the all important Hocktide Court during which the selected Jury are sworn in, and the Hocktide Luncheon, followed by Court Leet for the swearing in of the new Constable and other Officers. The finale, the Constable’s Parade and church service, conclude events on the following Sunday.

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Hocktide in 2017

 

The chief function of Tutti Day is the holding of the Hocktide Court

The whole celebration spans 2 weeks, and encompasses the selection of the Hocktide Jury, Ale Tasting, Tutti Day (also known as Hock Tuesday or Hockney Day), the all important Hocktide Court during which the selected Jury are sworn in, and the Hocktide Luncheon, followed by Court Leet for the swearing in of the new Constable and other Officers. The finale, the Constable’s Parade and church service, conclude events on the following Sunday.

First Tuesday after Easter – Selection of Hocktide Jury – Town Hall – 6pm
All Commoners are invited to select the new Hocktide jury, which takes place at 6pm in the Town Hall. The new Jury is then issued with a summons to attend the Hocktide Court the following Tuesday.

Friday – Macaroni Supper – Town Hall – 6.45pm
The Commoner Officers of the Town & Manor meet in the Town Hall to enjoy a supper based around macaroni, where potential office holders for the upcoming year are discussed. The Plantagenet punch is also mixed.

Sunday – Common clear-up – Downgate – 10am
Commoners, friends, camp-followers – everyone is welcome to meet and help clear up the Common, ready for the arrival of the cows for the new grazing season. We usually start in the morning, so we can be finished in plenty of time to reward ourselves with a pub lunch.

Monday – Ale Tasting – Corn Exchange – 7.30pm
Ale Tasters, last year’s Tutti Men, carry out the onerous task of testing and declaring on the quality of the local ale. It’s a tough job, but we usually find someone willing to do it!

Tuesday – Tutti Day (Hocktide) – a long action-packed day…

8am – Town Hall Balcony – Summoning of all Commoners to Hocktide Court
The Bellman will sound the Constable’s Horn from the Town Hall balcony. All Commoners will be summoned by the bell and proclamation to attend the Hocktide Court.

9am – Town Hall steps – Tutti Men set off
The Constable presents the decorated Tutti Poles to the Tutti Men (also known as Tything Men) who, accompanied by the Orangeman and Tutti Girls, set off to collect the dues from the Common Right properties

9.05am – Town Hall – Hocktide Court
The selected Hocktide Jury attend and all Commoners are called. Spectators are welcome to watch and listen to this very old tradition.

12.30 – Corn Exchange – Hocktide Luncheon 
The traditional highlight of the town’s year, a four-course meal with various toasts, which includes the Tutti Men and Orangeman.

After lunch – Shoeing the Colts
The Blacksmiths proceed with shoeing the colts, a tradition carried out light heartedly, in which first-time visitors to the lunch are caught and ‘shod’ (the shoe is real, the shoeing isn’t!) A little struggle makes it all the more fun, but colts can be shod gracefully if they’d prefer.

5pm – The Three Swans Hotel – Anchovies on Toast
A traditional and tasty treat, courtesy of the Three Swans.

7.30pm – Corn Exchange
The Hungerford Town Band play for the pleasure of the people of Hungerford.

9pm – The Three Swans Hotel – Return of the Tutti Men
The last port of call for the Tutti Men. The Constable and collected people of Hungerford welcome them safely back at the end of their long and arduous day.

Friday – Town Hall – Court Leet
The Court holds its first session, where they swear in the Office Holders elected at the Hocktide Court.

Sunday – Constable’s Sunday 

10.45am – Outside the Town Hall – Constable’s Sunday Parade  
The Constable, Steward, Commoners, Trustees and various organisations from the town parade from the Town Hall to the Parish Church – St Lawrence’s. The Bellman organises the procession, which is led by the Hungerford Town Band.

 

Hocktide 1913

 

THE HISTORY OF HOCKTIDE

The most important event in the Town & Manor of Hungerford’s calendar, the early medieval Hocktide is also one of England’s most ancient, and still proudly going strong.

Early medieval, Hocktide probably arises from ‘tourns’ or sheriff’s (shire-reave’s) courts, when the sheriff would visit the town regularly, holding court to manage finance, property and misdemeanours.

The origin of the name Hocktide is unclear. One theory is that it’s named after ‘Hocking’, a springtime Pagan ceremony, while another is that it derives from the Saxon ‘Heah-tit’ or ‘high festival’. No trace of the word is found in Old English, and hock-day, its earliest use in composition, appears first in the 12th century.

In the legal world, the judicial year usually starts in the autumn, but in Hungerford the Hocktide Court sits in the spring. This may be because the Commoners of Hungerford have Rights linked specifically to spring-related activities such as grazing and fishing.

The tradition of Hocktide dates back to the 14th century, when John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who owned much of the land around Hungerford, gave certain fishing rights to the townsfolk, which continue to this day. This was in addition to privileges already bestowed on the town by his father, Edward III, and grandfather Edward I, who gave the rights to hold charter markets and fairs.

Hungerford’s first Constable was John Tukill, appointed in 1458

The role of Constable, one of only five that remain throughout the UK, is supported by a team of Officers of the Court and Trustees. Trustees have administered the estate since 1617, which today covers 400 acres of land, 5.3 miles of trout streams and 3.2 miles of canal fishing.

 

Hocktide in the 1950s

 

Hocktide in 2009

 
 

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