New Fool chosen for historic 700-year-old Haxey Hood game

A new ‘fool’ has been chosen for the historic Haxey Hood game.

By Darren Burke
Friday, 19th July 2019, 9:27 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 1:35 pm
James Chatwin has been chosen as the new Haxey Hood fool.
James Chatwin has been chosen as the new Haxey Hood fool.

James Chatwin will take over the colourfully costumed role at the annual New Year game after previous Fool Dale Smith stepped down after this year’s game.

The game sees villagers from Haxey and Westwoodside attempt to wrestle the famed Hood to their village and the Fool is one of the main characters in the centuries old tradition.

His painted face and colourful costume have helped to make him the most enduring image of the game which originates from 1359.

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James will replace Dale Smith as the Fool.

An announcement on the Haxey Hood Facebook page said: “As you are aware Dale stood down as the Fool after this year’s Haxey Hood.

“We would just like to announce it has been decided that next fool is James Chatwin.”

James has been heavily involved in the game since a child and has been a Boggin – one of the organisers of the game – for nearly twenty years. Dale stepped down from the role after 25 years.

The Fool is based on one of the characters from the original staging of the contest more than 700 years ago.

The game's origins are said to stem from an incident when while riding over hill which separates Haxey from Westwoodside, Lady De Mowbray, the wife of a local landowner, lost her riding hood to the wind.

A group of farmworkers gave chase but the man who picked it up was too shy to hand it back, passing it to another man.

She said the man who handed it over had acted like a Lord, while the one who chose not to had acted like a Fool, helping to create the tale behind the ancient game.

The Fool leads proceedings and leads the traditional speech from the mounting stone in front of Haxey Church before the Smoking The Fool ceremony where damp straw is set on fire behind him.

He also leads the Hood's popular chant, “oose agen hoose, toon agen toon, if a man meets a man, knock '˜im doon, but don't '’ot ‘im,' which translates as '˜house against house, town against town, if a man meets a man, knock him down but don't hurt him.'

This year's contest was won by the Carpenters Arms at Westwoodside for the second year in a row.

The 2020 contest will take place on January 6.