Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hocktide in Hungerford Arcade

It's Hocktide in Hungerford and Tutti Day has been and gone for another year.  And if you don't know what that means, you're either not local, or you haven't been paying attention!

Adrian and Rod putting up the Hungerford Town flags

Yesterday could well have been the hottest day of the year so far and perfect weather for the Tutti Men (and women) to be walking the streets of Hungerford collecting collecting kisses and doling out oranges to the common folk of the town.  This might sound strange to the uninitiated but it is an annual event here in Hungerford and one that the whole town joins in with.  

The Tutti Men visit 102 properties in the High Street and beyond, traditionally to collect the rent, but these days they just have a little drink and a chat with the owners of the properties.  It is also traditional to take a kiss from the lady of the house.  They are accompanied by the Orange Man or Orange Scrambler who carries a bag of oranges to give to the townspeople.  They are followed by the Tutti Wenches who give out sweets and oranges in the street. 

Tutti Women Sarah and Angela with Orange Scrambler Paul

The more I write about it, the more absurd it sounds, but it is a lot of fun to be a part of and something I hope never dies out in Hungerford.

As of 2014, Hungerford is the only remaining town in England to recognise the ancient festival of Hocktide.  Hocktide is basically springtime.  It is the second week after Easter, when lent is over but summer hasn't yet begun.  It was one of the only times of year, along with Yuletide and Whitsuntide, when a landowner had, to put it simply, a bit of time off!  It was this time of year when the new agricultural year began and it was on Tutti Day or Hock Tuesday that the Tutti Men would visit the townspeople or commoners of the town to collect the rent.

Tutti Wenches Charlotte, Faye, Natasha and Chloe

It is a bit old fashioned and it's a bit strange, but we love it.  It's part of the identity of our town and the enthusiasm with which shop keepers and home owners embrace it just shows how popular it is.  We won't be letting this little tradition fade away any time soon.

Happy Hocktide!

The weather couldn't have been better!


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