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Hoodening is an East Kent folk custom, performed by Hoodeners and a Hooden Horse. The earliest record of the word is 1735-6, and the earliest description is 1807. Numerous references appeared in the 19th century press, but the custom was 'declining' when Percy Maylam published his seminal work "The Hooden Horse" in 1909. Some of the groups (or 'teams') Maylam describes only appear to have performed for a few years, while others kept it up for a decade or more. Various groups continued to perform sporadically after 1909, until in 1966 the original horse 'Dobbin' re-awoke in the parish of St Nicholas-at-Wade with Sarre, where the Hoodeners have performed a new folk play each year for over half a century since.

Other 'revival' groups have appeared more recently, notably in Deal and Whitstable. Each gives the custom their own twist, with Deal, for example, focusing on sea shanties and other songs, while Whitstable follows the St Nicholas lead in performing a play, although the content is quite different.

The Hoodeners of St Nicholas make a distinction between a hooden horse (as used in hoodening), a mast horse (as used in hoodening but also in [soul caking]] and some mumming and mummering groups), a tourney horse (as used at Minehead and Padstow), a sieve horse (as used in Ireland), and a Hobby Horse (a rather vague term, which includes the well-known children's toy comprising a horse's head on a stick with wheels at the bottom, the early forms of velocipede, and sundry Morris beasts and the like).

See also


  • Percy Maylam, The Hooden Horse, (privately published, 1909)
  • George Frampton, Discordant Comicals: the Hooden Horse of East Kent, (Ozaru Books, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-9931587-7-3)
  • Fran & Geoff Doel, Mumming, Howling and Hoodening: Midwinter Rituals in Sussex, Kent and Surrey, Meresborough Books, 1992. ISBN: 0948193743

External links