Lincolnshire

Centuries-old Haxey Hood game held

The Fool addresses the crowd Image copyright Anna Gowthorpe
Image caption Before the Haxey Hood Game starts, the Fool, Dale Smith, addresses the crowd

A mass rugby-style game dating back to the 14th Century has been won after hours of play.

The Haxey Hood event is contested by patrons of pubs in the neighbouring villages of Haxey and this year's winner Westwoodside.

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Image caption After a speech the Haxey Fool is carried through the village to start the Haxey Hood Game

The Hood, a leather tube about one metre in length, is pushed in a scrum until it reaches one of four pubs.

The contest, which includes the Smoking of the Fool, is held annually on the Twelfth Day of Christmas.

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Image caption The 2016 Haxey Hood got under way as dusk fell

The tradition started when Lady de Mowbray was out riding between Westwoodside and Haxey - between Gainsborough, Scunthorpe and Doncaster - when her silk riding hood was blown away by the wind.

She is said to have been so amused to see local farm workers chasing it she rewarded them land - on condition the chase would be re-enacted every year.

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Image caption Competitors are not allowed to throw the Hood, or run with it, and although the referees - known as Boggins - try to keep order, injuries can occur

The story says the worker who caught the hood was too shy to approach her and handed it to a fellow worker to return.

It is said Lady de Mowbray thanked the man who returned the hood and said he had acted like a lord. The worker who caught it was labelled a fool.

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Image caption Chief Boggin Phil Palmer, right, tries to keep order in the game although there are few rules

Part of the event involves the Fool giving a speech, during which a fire is lit close by - this is known as the Smoking of the Fool.

There is also a procession around participating public houses, The Carpenters Arms in Westwoodside, and the Kings Arms, The Loco and the Duke William, all in Haxey.

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Image caption Despite the presence of referees, the game can get pretty rough in the "sway"

The main event starts when the hood is thrown into the middle of the scrum, or sway, as it is known locally.

The sway pushes through the villages, with each team trying to direct it towards their pub.

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Image caption This shot from 1928 shows children from the parish with hessian sacks

The contest, which can last for hours, ends when the Hood is touched by the landlord of the winning team's pub.

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Image caption This shot shows the Hood being thrown-up in 1928
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Image caption Children are also keen players of Haxey Hood
Image copyright PA
Image caption The annual event attracts hundreds of people from across the country

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