Out on ye for penny hedge

The Penny Hedge under construction''w122023c
The Penny Hedge under construction''w122023c

OUT on ye, out on ye, out on ye...

The now infamous call rang out over the harbour at Whitby on Wednesday morning as the legendary Penny Hedge ceremony took place.

Mayor John Freeman joins the ceremony''w122023a

Mayor John Freeman joins the ceremony''w122023a

It has been tradition in the town since 1159 to plant a hedge made from hazel on the banks of the harbour.

The bizarre ritual was started after three hunters beat a hermit, who lived in a cave at Eskdaleside, to within an inch of his life after he allowed the boar they were hunting to take refuge in his cave.

In turn he didn’t want blood on his hands so it was his deathbed wish that they carried out the task as penance.

Legend has it, the hedge had to be strong enough to withstand three tides and if it didn’t, the hunters would lose their land.

Penny Hedge

Penny Hedge

It was also stipulated that the process had to be carried out every year, on the eve of ascension until time and tide prevented it.

Amazingly, the first time the ritual couldn’t be fulfilled was 1968.

Lol Hodgson, the bailiff of the Manor of Fyling, now carries out the ceremony accompanied by Tim Osborne, the chairman of the Staintondale Hunt.

Mr Hodgson said: “They had to plant it each year until time and tide stopped them. It went on until 1968 and the penance was paid. After that Whitby Town Council asked it to be carried on as a tradition and it has been kept on all that time.”

After the hedge had been planted and carefully woven together, a horn is sounded and followed by the cry ‘Out on ye’, repeated three times.

Mayor of Whitby, Coun John Freeman was also at the ceremony. He said: “The size of the area they cover is fascinating but these are traditions and they are good.

“It is the first job of the mayoral year.”