Huge turnout to support the Penny Hedge tradition

editorial image

There was a much-improved turnout as almost 200 people lined the upper harbour to witness the ancient custom of the planting of the Penny Hedge this morning.

Young and old watched on as Lol Hodgson, bailiff of the manor of Fyling and horn blower Tim Osborne wound the sticks together before the traditional sounding of the horn, followed by the chant of "Out on Ye."

A section of the crowd provided a rousing finale, performing a song marking the history of the ceremony.

David Owen who was one of the people behind the effort to increase attendance thanked the Whitby Gazette and local businesses for getting behind the tradition.

He said: "We've counted around 180 people here, which is a big improvement on last year. It should be one of those things that gets bigger every year now.

"Next year we are going to produce an education pack and we will go into schools to educate children about it."

Plans for the future also include organising a concert the night before and introducing a community opera for the event.

David added: "We want to grow it year on year."

The tradition was filmed live on our Facebook page, where people watched on from locations around the UK and even the world, including Spain, Staffordshire and King's Cross Station.

Records indicate the ceremony has taken place since the year 1159, with the story behind the custom concerning three noblemen who were hunting a wild boar, when it was reputed to have sought refuge with a hermit in Eskdaleside. The three men attacked the hermit and killed him and the building of a hedge cut with a penny knife was undertaken as a punishment.

After the hunted boar apparently managed to escape its pursuers by hiding in a chapel, the noblemen were denied access to the building by a hermit. In a fit of rage they rode him down with spears, mortally wounding him. On his death bed, the hermit informed those responsible for his wounding that both they and their ancestors were to build a hedge capable of withstanding three tides as penance.