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!”
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.