Little Egypt's Horkey - October 11, 1997

For the second year running, Little Egypt developed the tradition of the Glemsford Horkey.

The Horkey was the farmworkers' celebration of the Harvest. Little Egypt have adapted the tradition to suit the needs of the Morris, and to have some fun.

Torn from the green wood

Preparation for the day had been going on for some time, with help from many quarters, but the celebration really begins with the ceremonial cutting of the Horkey bough. This took place the previous evening, and the oak was carefully selected for its age and shape, as well as for the fact that the tree needed judicious pruning.

The bough selected was found deep in the countryside around Glemsford; the cutters were witnessed only by some grazing pheasants, some roe deer who kept a discreet distance, and several timid hare. We suspect though that the ghosts from the remains of the nearby monastery also kept watch worriedly over this pagan act.

The Lord of the Harvest

The Morris Men of Little Egypt gathered early at Park Farm to elect the Lord of the Harvest (once again, John Aldous) and to mark the making of the Harvest contract.

A toast was drunk to the success of the day, to absent friends, and particularly to the Hoingker, our comrades-in-spirit in Germany.

Outside the premises of Mick and Maureen Stiff (Butchers, Greengrocers - licensed to deal in game), we also danced, and yet again "Hollered Largesse" - the ancient harvest custom of demanding money from any who should dare watch our activities.

Our next stop was our spiritual home, the "Black Lion".

Black Lion

Here we hollered and danced and also partook of an excellent pint of Gales HSB, that wonder-brew from Horndean, Hants, at present featuring as a guest beer. We also met by coincidence a pair of brave young ladies nearing the end of a marathon charity pony trek which had started in Portugal and was due to end in nearby Lavenham. We gladly donated some of our largesse to their Hospice collection.Our new friends

From the Lion, we moved on to invoke another tradition, that of filling the Squire's pond.

Filling the Squire's Pond

Julie did her best ...

... to join in too.

These drought-ridden days demand desperate measures.

Then to the new greengrocer's shop on Hunts Hill, and so to

"The Angel", for lunch and ale and song.

The Angel

The Angel, a side view

Lunch at the Angel

Mo, aka Aunty Wainwright, illustrious host of The Angel

Typically of Little Egypt, the forecast downpour did not arrive until we were comfortably established in the pub. This was about three hours later than the forecasters predicted. No Little Egypt event has ever been abandoned to the weather.

Saturday evening was then spent in extravagant celebration, in Clare Town Hall. There was feasting and dancing and singing. We were pleased to welcome guests from several other sides who each did their bit, including Belchamp and Lagabag and Haughley and Bury Fair.

The Little Egypt All Star Horkey Band provided the music, and all the members of the side and their partners provided the food.

Unfortunately, the batteries on my new-fangled digital camera ran out, but I managed to salvage a few shots of the Little Egypt All Star Horkey Band (funerals and Bar-Mitzvahs Our Speciality) in action, namely Tommo (My Hero is Jack Bruce) the Bassman and Mark (I Have No Heros Other Than John Kirkpatrick) the Melodeon Man. Tommo In ActionTommo the Bassman Moving



The Dancing Season

The Original Horkey

Page maintained by Steve Clarke, Copyright(c) july 30 1997. Created: 11/10/97 Updated: 09/10/99