Hungerford’s Hocktide Tutti Day 2018

Hungerford is starting to prepare for Tutti Day on Tuesday 10 April, the highlight of the annual Hocktide celebrations.

Hocktide dates back to medieval times. It was an important time of the year when rents were collected, judgements made and the rights of a town asserted. At one time, it was held in almost every town in the country. Today it survives in only one – Hungerford, because the tradition has been maintained by the Town and Manor of Hungerford charity which owns a lot of property and land in the town (including the Town Hall). This article traces the history of Hocktide in Hungerford and describes how the event is conducted and celebrated in the 21st century.

The Selection of Hocktide Jury

This takes place on the morning of the Tuesday following Easter Monday (3 April in 2018) in the Magistrates’ Room. All commoners’ names are put into the Bellman’s hat – and the names are drawn singly by the attending Commoners. Those chosen are required to attend the Court of Tutti-Day.

The Macaroni Supper

This traditional meal of Macaroni cheese and watercress, with ale, is held on the Friday after Easter (6 April in 2018) at the Three Swans Hotel. It is attended by the Constable and other serving officers of the Hocktide Court. The Macaroni Supper is now used to discuss possible appointments to office at the new court.

The Ale Tasting

The “Assize of Bread and Ale” had 13th century origins, when it was important to monitor the quality of bread and ale in every town and village. It lapsed circa 1900, but was reinstated as “Ale Tasting” in the mid 1960s. It takes place on the Monday evening (9 April in 2018) before Tutti-Day in the Corn Exchange, and the evening makes a splendid prelude to the important day to come.

Tutti Day

Tutti Day is a glorious and slightly eccentric continuation of the medieval rent collection ritual by the Titheing Men (also known locally as Tutti Men). There is a traditional day-long schedule including a formal lunch hosted by The Constable which the public can buy tickets to attend.

8 a.m. Summoning of all Commoners to Hocktide Court
The Bellman will sound the Constable’s horn from the Town Hall balcony. All Commoners will be summoned by the bell and proclamation to attend the Hocktide Court.

9 a.m. Tithing Men Setting Off
The Constable will present the Tutti Poles to the Tithing Men on the Town Hall Steps. The Tithing Men then set off, accompanied by Orangeman Jim Scarlett and the Tutti girls, to collect the dues from the Common Right Properties. Traditionally the Tithing Men collected rent but now they collect kisses in exchange for an orange, in recognition of the town’s support of William of Orange in the 17th century.

9.05 a.m. Hocktide Court
The selected Hocktide Jury will attend the Court in the Town Hall and all Commoners are called. Spectators are welcome to watch and listen to this very old tradition.

1pm  Hocktide Luncheon
Attendance by invitation from The Constable or purchase of tickets from Crown Needlework on 01488 684011 from 13 March. It is a formal lunch with traditional toasts and a Plantagenet punch (from a closely guarded secret recipe).

The Bar will be open from 12.00 noon to enable you to buy wine by the bottle and soft drinks for lunch. A complimentary glass of wine before the lunch will be provided for you and your guests in the Magistrates Room. The lunch starts promptly so please be seated by 12.50pm.

Shoeing the Colts
After lunch, the Blacksmith will proceed with the shoeing of newcomers to the Tutti-lunch, who are called ‘colts.’ The blacksmith pretends to drive a nail into their shoe and the hammering only stops when the colt shouts ‘punch.’ This tradition is carried out light heartedly and no one should be hurt. A little struggle makes it all the more fun, but colts can be shod gracefully if they so wish. A donation of £5 is appreciated to cover the cost of shoeing.

3 – 5pm Tutti Day Crafts for Children
All local children welcome to meet the Tutti Men and enjoy craft activities at the United Reform Church.

5 pm Anchovies on Toast
All are welcome for the traditional anchovies on toast, courtesy of the Three Swans opposite The Town Hall

7.30 pm Hungerford Town Band
Every year the town band performs for the pleasure of the people of Hungerford in the Corn Exchange.

9.00 pm Return of the Tithing Men
The Constable welcomes the Tithing Men back at The Three Swans the end of their long and arduous day.

Tutti Day 2018

Click here for a short report on Meridian News

Tutti Day 2017

See for yourself in our short video what happened on Tutti Day Tuesday 25 April with Lesley Bradley and Bruce Mayhew as Tutti Men supported by Orangeman Jim Scarlett and John O’Gaunt students Maddison Pettifer, Molly Skipworth, Georgia Smith and Sian Wheeler as the Tutti Girls.

Lots of fun – including a particularly raucous ‘Shoeing of the Colts’ by blacksmith Pete Rackham in Hungerford Town Hall after the Hocktide Lunch…


Photo above: Tony Bartlett

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