The Penny Hedge — coming up soon!

Coming up, on 8 May 2013, will be the ceremony in Whitby, North Yorkshire, England, called the PENNY HEDGE ceremony.

Take a look here at this short video of it:

“The Penny Hedge is an ancient tradition in the English coastal town of Whitby in Yorkshire.

The legend dates back to 1159, when the Abbot of Whitby imposed a penance on three hunters, and on their descendants for all time, for murdering a hermit at Eskdaleside.

The hunters were following a wild boar near Whitby. When the boar took refuge in a hermitage at Eskdaleside, the nobles set upon the monk living there, who had closed the door on the hounds. Before he died, the monk consented to forgive them and spare their lives if they and their descendants would enact a penance.

Each year, on the eve of Ascension Day, on the shore of Whitby, they had to construct a short hedge from stakes woven together, able to withstand three tides. The instructions stipulated that a knife “of a penny price” was to be used.

The ceremony is still performed in Whitby every year on Ascension Eve, by the occupiers of the land formerly owned by the Abbot. A horn is sounded and followed by the cry “Out on ye! Out on ye! Out on ye!”

(from Wikipedia)

This is something Paul and I always wished we’d attended but never did. We hadn’t even discovered Whitby on our first trip to England & Scotland in 1986, on our honeymoon, until late in our trip, but after that year, on all our 7 subsequent trips to Yorkshire, Whitby was “our town” and it was where we could be found several times each trip. The Penny Hedge ceremony was always held a little too early in the month of May when we were there which was usually nearer the middle or the end of the month.

You know how when you walk into a place and you just know that place is “home”? Well, for both of us Whitby was that place. I guess the fishing aspect of the town helped. Even in places like Scarborough, which we have visted many times, and Robin Hood’s Bay, Staithes, and even down as far south as Flamborough and Bridlington, the fishing aspects of all those towns drew us in but nothing quite so strongly as Whitby did. If we ever were so fortunate enough to move across the pond, that town is where we would live.

I am so thankful for the internet and my access to it now – even though there’s nothing better than being there in person, this is the next best thing. So I’m off now to see what else I can experience Whitby-style here on the Web.

[Click photo above for origin and artist]


Bex & Co.

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12 Responses to The Penny Hedge — coming up soon!

  1. Bex says:

    Joan… good observation but when I re-watched the little clip, it seems she might have a pair of white short wellies on… rather than just “trainers” – which would make more sense. One thing those Brits do well is march about outdoors in their wellies… but I think she may have white ones on…


  2. Joan says:

    I couldn’t keep my eyes off that silly woman photographer who didn’t bother wearing her Wellies!!!


  3. T.S. says:

    Happy Burfday!
    I think you should move to Whitby. Sounds awesome…


  4. Rhubarb says:

    What a fascinating custom, handed down through the generations. Thanks for sharing!


  5. TopsyTurvy says:

    They’ve been planting a hedge every year since 1159 and they still don’t have a hedgerow growing there. You’d think they’d figure out by now that they need to plant something else! (LOL j/k)


  6. Eric Mayer says:

    Happy birthday!

    Fascinating custom. Safer than cheese rolling!


  7. Betty Lou says:

    Hope your Birthday is a Happy one, and that there will be many more to come !


  8. Bex says:

    Maggie, I meant to link to that painting… I will do it now so you can click on it and read all about it. I love it too.

    Actually we have a similar picture of Whitby that was given to Paul by our friend Sheila who lives in the Yorkshire Dales…

    Top is Whitby and bottom one is Staithes, another beautiful old fishing village on the northeast coast of Yorkshire.

    It’s by a different artist but is very similar with the beautiful bold colors and shapes.


  9. Maggie says:

    Happy Birthday Bex!

    Interesting tradition. Love the painting, who is the artist?


  10. Bex says:

    Thank you dear friends… at least my birthday today is more peaceful than yesterday was – we had a back-up in a pipe in the basement but Paul fixed it and now we are good-to-go. Literally….


  11. sandy freel says:

    WOW…the things I learn here from you :-)THANKS


  12. mz. em says:

    I love rocking chair traveling with you. How lucky you have been to have been able to travel.


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