Hot pennies event returns to Honiton tomorrow

Honiton town crier Dave Retter at Hot Pennies in 2018

Honiton town crier Dave Retter at the Honiton Hot Pennies. - Credit: Peter Hodges

The Honiton hot pennies event returns to the town tomorrow (July 26) - for its 801st year. 

Its a tradition in the town dating back to the 13th century, Honiton’s hot pennies ceremony remains unbroken for several hundred years, and still takes place on the first Tuesday after July 19, each year.

Beginning at noon in the Old Pannier Market, the town crier, accompanied by the mayor and local dignitaries, hoists a garlanded pole with a gloved hand at the top and proclaims, ‘No man may be arrested so long as the glove is up'.

This was so that everyone would come to Honiton for the fair which followed the ceremony, without the fear of being arrested.

The first pennies of the event are thrown from the balcony of the former assembly rooms, above the Old Pannier Market, and then a procession follows the garlanded pole to a number of pubs and public houses where ‘hot pennies’ are thrown to the gathered children.

Nowadays, the pennies thrown are merely warm, but the tradition of the pennies being thrown hot was because the affluent people who threw the coins took great delight in seeing the peasants burn their fingers while picking them up.