Campaign group set up to protect Haxey Hood over pub demolition plan

The Haxey Hood has been held since 1359.
The Haxey Hood has been held since 1359.

A campaign group has been set up to protect the historic Haxey Hood after it was revealed there are plans to demolish one of the pubs involved in the ancient game.

Proposals have been unveiled to knock down the Duke William in Haxey - and if the plan is carried through it would leave the number of pubs contesting the game, which dates from 1359, reduced to just two.

The Duke William last won the Hood in 2012.

The Duke William last won the Hood in 2012.

However, upset locals in Haxey have rallied against the plan to level the site for housing and have set up a group to fight the plans.

Luke Coggon said on Facebook: "This plan will be absolutely devastating for the village and could potentially threaten the existence of the Haxey Hood."

Mr Coggon, son of the current Lord of The Hood Phil Coggon, is urging residents to oppose the plan to demolish the Church Street pub and build nine homes on the site.

He added: "The building is an essential part of the street scene and is around 280 years old.

"The pub is an essential component in the nationally important folk tradition of Haxey Hood, the loss of the Duke along with the already closed Kings Arms, would almost certainly mean the end of the Hood, certainly in its present format."

The Duke - the pub closest to the site of where the ancient game is played - last won the famed game in 2012 and has traditionally been one of four local pubs contesting the rugby style game where participants attempt to push a tube of leather - the Hood - towards their favoured watering hole.

Another former winning pub, the King's Arms, also in Haxey, shut down shortly after last year's contest, meaning that the 2018 competition on January 6 was contested by the Duke, the Carpenters' Arms at Westwoodside and The Loco, also in Haxey.

The Duke William has won the Hood three times since 2000, claiming victory in 2001, 2003 and 2012.

He added: "I've been seeing a few comments on how the Hood will survive without pubs.

"Yes it dates back 700 years before there were the pubs we have today, but since the 1800s, the pubs in both villages have played a key and integral role in the game.

"As the years have gone by, today's game has evolved so that the pubs play a most important part, as tradition dictates the winning pub hosts the Hood for a year untill the next year.

"How are you going to do that with a marquee? Leave it up for a year?"

A public meeting is to be held in Haxey on February 21 for residents to air their views.

Parish council chairman Coun Dave Knowles said: “People will no doubt go rushing off and saying it will kill the Hood, not necessarily.

"But it used to happen before there were pubs. My personal opinion is that it will find another mechanism to carry on - you could end up with an event where you could put up a marquee, which has a beer tent. There are ways around it, with a bit of thought.”

Coun Knowles said he was concerned about the loss of a pub and the impact on the streetscene, which has been there for “aeons”, adding: “It will not look right in my view, it has been there forever.”

A report for North Lincolnshire Council, as part of the planning application, says the pub is no longer financially viable “as its trade balance has been at a cumulative loss over the last few years.”

It says the closure of the King’s further along High Street shows “there is broadly a falling demand” and claims “any attempt to relaunch the business would be likely unsuccessful.” It adds that The Loco is “under the applicant’s control, will continue to trade and is located just some metres away in Church Street.”

The game dates from the 14th century, when Lady de Mowbray, wife of an Isle landowner, John De Mowbray, was out riding towards Westwoodside on the hill that separates it from Haxey.

As she went over the hill her silk riding hood was blown away by the wind.

Thirteen farm workers in the field rushed to help and chased the hood all over the field. It was finally caught by one of the farm workers, but being too shy to hand it back to the lady, he gave it to one of the others to hand back to her.

She thanked the farm worker who had returned the hood and said that he had acted like a Lord, whereas the worker who had actually caught the hood was a Fool.

So amused was she by this act of chivalry and the resulting chase, that she donated 13 acres of land on condition that the chase for the hood would be re-enacted each year.

This year's event was won by the Carpenters Arms.