Horkey 2004

Another grand Little Egypt occasion

Neville inspects his big twig

On and off,

Little Egypt have celebrated the Horkey since 1996.

This is what was written then:

"Convinced as we are of the pre-industrial and rural roots of the Morris, the Men of Little Egypt decided last year (1996) to l aunch an alternative to the more usual "Morris Ale". This took the form of the Horkey.
We took the idea from the tradition among Suffolk farm workers of celebrating the harvest's completion with a grand celebration, involving largely lots of food and lots more beer.
The celebrations came under the direction of an elected Lord of the Harvest, normally the best worker, or foreman. We elected our own Lord to supervise proceedings.
Traditionally, the last load of crops taken from the fields was surmounted on the wagon by a green oak bough, the Horkey Bough (one Glemsford farmer still celebrates this tradition by putting a bough on his combine).
As an acknowledgement of this tradition, we cut our own bough and "danced" it through the village, pausing at various establishments to "Holler Largesse"
"Hollering Largesse" seems to have been little more than condoned demands of money with menaces, used by the workers to collect money to pay for the Horkey feast. "

On October 16, 2004, the tradition continued.

A correspondent, who wishes to remain anonymous - thanks Brian - has sent this description of the day:

At the arranged time, 11a.m. precisely, two or three men and the odd musician arrived at the Squire's house in preparation for the "Dragging the Bough" ceremony. By 11.30 there were enough people gathered to allow the proceedings to begin. Squire attached a towing strap and after a fortifying measure of scotch the bough was dragged onto Tye Green where contracts were arranged between the Lord of the Harvest and the farmer. A further drop of scotch sealed the bargain and with the first "Holler" of "Largesse" the procession began heading down hill for the Angel Inn.
Some children joined the group and their youthful tinkling cries of "ere, wot chew dooin wiv tha' bit a tree?" spurred the men onwards. Residents came to their doors to shout encouragement, others simply banged on their windows.
Following a refreshing pint of Greene King's finest, largesse was once more hollered resulting in a generous donation from the landlady of the Angel. Then Ring o' Bells was performed with the youngsters joining in and dancing remarkably well!
Another pint and it was on to the social club for the next dance. Faces appeared at the window but no-one dared come out.
Across the road one brave Glemsfordian was given the holler and he kindly donated the contents of his daughter's piggy bank - to her clear distress.
Mitchell Engineering/Hunts Hill Stores was the next venue. Once again a generous donation was made. By now the young folk had taken on the task of bough dragging and the men raced to keep up. Even so a spirited Vandals was performed outside the Fish & Chip Shop and General Stores and the team was rewarded with portions of steaming chips.

Onward to the Black Lion

where ale was ordered but only sipped as the next venue was the Church at 2pm and it was already ten past.
An outstanding set was performed in the churchyard including Speed the Plough and Fires of August. Then back to the Black Lion to finish those half drunk pints before repairing to the village hall and setting up for the evening's Horkey Dance.

And what a success!

A really good turn out from the village and beyond. There was a terrific atmosphere, everyone enjoying the dancing to the fabulous Horkey Band - what a bass player - with expert calling from John Aldous. The men gave a stunningly spirited precision performance of the Horkey Stomp had the crowd calling for more. Speed the Plough had them in raptures.

Here also are some (edited) comments from the Squire:

Andrew was fully trained in the art of Hollering Largesse and picked up the mantle very well - in fact it seemed to come extremely naturally for one so quiet and retiring. Largesse was demanded at various points and was duly received from the chipshop, Mitchells, the Angel and the Lion plus various innocent bystanders.

The dance went off very well indeed and I did not hear anybody say that they had not enjoyed themselves. The band played very well and the sound was spot on. Aldous called with a degree of clarity that was sublime and had averybody on their feet all night.

I would like to single out Alasdair, Keith, Andrew and Pippa who sold a great many tickets each - this really helped to bolster up numbers. We had attendees also from The Harlots, Green Dragon, The Green Jackets and Westrafelda morrris sides. Thanks to Tommo and Julie for organising the ticket sales.

A sterling job was done preparing the Food in the afternoon and making sure that this all went smoothly in the evening. Mary N went to a great deal of trouble puchasing the victuals even though she was not able to come in the evening.

Doods` string of lights worked wonders for the atmosphere. Thanks Dave J for the help behind the bar - which was very busy all night.

Bangs did his usual raffle blagging and achieved a very healthy profit indeed and also managed to get a thatcher mate to bring along the usual bucolic accessories to decorate the Hall. The Straw Man was the best ever !!

Proffo manned the door most of the night to make sure there were no interlopers. Thanks also to the crew who helped clear things up on Sunday morning.

Select your stick

(The Editor, Archivist and Historian rather feels that the Ceremony of Taking the Sticks is a Poor Substitute for the venerated Custom of Filling the Squire's Pond (qv))

Making the contract What a drag it is getting old
Nearly out of steam already It's all downhill from now on
Holler lo, holler lar, holler largeeeeeese Dancing in Angel Lane with new recruits
It goes something like this If we stay here long enough, they'll pay us to go away
The innocence of youth/yoof Oi, come back with our bough, you young 'ooligans
The Old Codgers Club I left my spare set at home
You hum it, I'll pluck it I used to vote UKIP, but now I'm into Yogic flying
I suddenly feel very small
Publicity? who needs publicity?

So there you are: all I need now are some shots of the evening do to match the Moody Promo B&W jobby (above) and this record of another Little Egypt triumph will be complete.

Earlier Horkeys:

Other links:

Maintaining the traditions of Little Egypt

Steve Clarke steve@little-egypt.org.uk 09 November 2005