800th anniversary makes town's celebrated event a hot topic this year
- Credit: Pete Hodges
Having been forced to cancel the Honiton Hot Pennies ceremony last year there is optimism and relief that in this the 800th anniversary year of the granting of Honiton’s Royal Charter, the ceremony which traditionally marks the beginning of Fair Week will take place again.
In recognition of this milestone and to celebrate the return to a ‘new normal’ there will be various attractions in the build-up to the 12 noon start so come along and join in the fun before town crier Dave Retter in his traditional costume complete with Tricorn hat hosts the wonderfully decorated Garlanded Pole to lead the crowds through the town, stopping at various hostelries and historic buildings from which the Pennies will be thrown – starting at the customary hour of 12 noon outside The Holt with the famous ‘Ye Glove is up .... ‘cry’ and the throwing of the first ‘Hot Pennies’ before moving on to The Volunteer.
From here the garlanded pole will be carried up the High Street with a stop en route for more throwing out of Pennies at The Manor House now the offices of Beviss & Beckingsale, sponsor, then on to The Three Tuns to finish in the centre of the town at The Old Pannier Market where the Garlanded Pole will be fixed and after a final ‘Cry’ the deputy mayor will join the staff of The Bed Expert to throw out the last of the year’s Hot Pennies.
For centuries it has all begun with the chant “Oyez, oyez, oyez. The glove is up, the glove is up, the glove is up. The Fair has begun, the fair has begun, the fair has begun. No man shall be arrested, no man shall be arrested, no man shall be arrested, until the glove is taken down, until the glove is taken down, until the glove is taken down. God save the Queen!”
Please note there will be local diversions and some delays to traffic entering the town on the A373 from Cullompton due to a Road Closure to the lower part of Honiton High Street between 12 to 12.30pm.
Honiton Fair dates from 1221, originally held on Allhallows Eve and Allhallows Day (1st November), the date was changed in 1247 to the eve and feast of St Margaret (19/20th July).
The protection from arrest was arranged to ensure that everyone would come to Honiton for the fair that followed the ceremony, without fear of being ‘locked up’ for their debts; they would otherwise have stayed away.
Originally hot chestnuts would have been thrown and over time these gave way to hot pennies which were thrown by the more affluent inhabitants. Legend has it that these people took great delight in seeing the peasants burn their fingers whilst collecting the pennies.
800 years on the practice still continues although reassuringly these days the pennies are merely warm!!
Look out too for the Window Display Competition in celebration of Hot Pennies.
The organising Committee are committed to preserving this ancient Ceremony and have been grateful for continued financial support from Honiton Town Council, local Law Firm Beviss & Beckingsale and assistance from the respective publicans and retailers - not forgetting Devon Freewheelers and of course Honiton town crier Dave Retter, who can be contacted on 01404 861392 / 07761 926628 – he is always happy to give interviews and his inimitable Devon brogue is not to be missed!
Aside from the colour and history, the action among the crowd as they scramble for pennies has always made for interesting footage for the television cameras and more recently You-Tube
Paul Carter - Chairman, Honiton Hot Pennies Ceremony Committee 01823 330343 / 07980 850093
A big thank-you from Dave to the four sponsors Beviss and Beckingsale, Tesco, Honiton Town Council and Devon County Council.
There is a decorated pole competition for children up to the age of 16. The youngsters will follow Dave as he carries out the ceremony. They are £50, £245 and £15 prizes.
Anyone who wants to take part can call Dave Retter for more details: 01404 861392 or 07761926628.