Country Life

The Haxey Hood Game, Haxey, Lincolnshire, England

Homer Sykes

The Haxey Hood Game, Haxey, Lincolnshire, England

Vintage Gelatin Silver Print

24 x 30.5 cms (9.43 x 11.99 ins)

1972

HC 9827

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist

Signed on the reverse.

It is unclear how this rough version of rugby football began. The most likely theory is that its origins lie in some sacrifical game of Celtic times, but it can only be traced with some certainty to an incident involving the first Lady de Mowbray who married John de Mowbray in 1298.

One day when she was out riding her hood blew off and thirteen farm workers or 'boggans' in the vicinity gave chase to it. When it was finally rescued by the 'fool' he was too shy to hand it over, so another boggan, (the 'lord') gave it to her. Lady de Mowbray was so impressed with this gallantry that in her will she left a piece of land called the 'Hoodlands' to the village as long as the inhabitants promised to re-enact the event annually. Consequently, each year, on the 6th January the people, not only of Haxey, but also of Westwoodside and other surrounding villages, play a very rough and sometimes drunken game with a leather Hood, fighting it back in a 'Sway' to one of the village pubs.

Homer Sykes has said of this photograph: 'This is one of the children Hoods being thrown up at the start of the games, the Chief Boggan is holding the men's leather Hood in his left hand. The game is very rough, and takes place after long lunch time drinking sessions have ended. What I like is the clear foggy background isolating the main figure- the chilld at the edge of the frame, I really would have liked a bit more of her, but both her eyes are there and that's important for me, as she is clearly watching the Hood'.

This photograph was included in the book by Homer Sykes Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs (Gordon Fraser, 1977)



British Photography / The Hyman Collection

Homer Sykes

The Haxey Hood Game, Haxey, Lincolnshire, England

Vintage Gelatin Silver Print

24 x 30.5 cms (9.43 x 11.99 ins)

1972

HC 9827

All images © the artist or copyright holder | Website © The Hyman Collection 2021