'Huge optimism and relief' at staging Honiton Hot Pennies event again this year

  Posted: 26.07.21 at 09:59 by Philippa Davies

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Honiton’s Hot Pennies ceremony takes place tomorrow (Tuesday, July 27) – and there is a ‘huge sense of both optimism and relief’ that this year – the 800th anniversary of the granting of Honiton’s Royal Charter, the event that traditionally marks the beginning of ‘Fair Week’ - will take place again, having been cancelled last year because of Covid-19.

To celebrate both the 800th anniversary milestone and the return to a ‘new normal’, there will be various attractions in the build-up to the 12:00 noon start – including the judging of a children’s pole decorating competition at 11am.

The Town Crier, Dave Retter, in his traditional costume complete with tricorn hat, hoists the decorated Garlanded Pole to lead the crowds through the town, stopping at various hostelries and historic buildings from which the Pennies will be thrown, starting at the customary hour of 12:00 noon outside The Holt with the famous ‘Ye Glove is up .... cry and the throwing of the first ‘Hot Pennies.

“Oyez, oyez, oyez. The glove is up, the glove is up, the glove is up. The Fair has begun, the fair has begun, the fair has begun. No man shall be arrested, no man shall be arrested, no man shall be arrested, until the glove is taken down, until the glove is taken down, until the glove is taken down. God save the Queen!”

The Garlanded Pole will be carried up the High Street with a stop en route for more throwing out of pennies at The Volunteer, The Manor House (now the offices of Beviss & Beckingsale, who are among the sponsors of the event), then on to The Three Tuns to finish in the centre of the town at The Old Pannier Market where the Garlanded Pole will be fixed and after a final ‘Cry’ the Deputy Mayor will join the staff of The Bed Expert to throw out the last of the year’s Hot Pennies. Shops in the town centre have created special window displays for the event.

The history of the Honiton Hot Pennies

Honiton Fair dates from 1221 and was originally held on Allhallows Eve and Allhallows Day (1st November). The date was changed in 1247 to the eve and feast of St Margaret (19/20th July).

The protection from arrest was arranged to make sure everyone would come to Honiton for the fair that followed the ceremony without fear of being locked up for their debts; they would otherwise have stayed away.

Originally hot chestnuts would have been thrown and over time these gave way to hot pennies which were thrown by the more affluent inhabitants. Legend has it that these people took great delight in seeing the peasants burn their fingers whilst picking up the money. Today the pennies are merely warm – not hot.

The organising committee are committed to preserving this ancient ceremony and have been grateful for continued financial support from Honiton Town Council, local law firm Beviss & Beckingsale and assistance from the respective publicans and retailers - not forgetting Devon Freewheelers and of course Honiton Town Cryer; Dave Retter.

They are also very grateful to the three other sponsors:Tesco, Honiton Town Council and Devon County Council.

There will be local diversions and some delays to traffic entering the town on the A373 from Cullompton due to a road closure to the lower part of Honiton High Street between 12:00 hrs and 12:30 hrs.

Anyone interested in taking part in the decorated pole competition – open to young people aged up to 16 - can contact Dave Retter on phone numbers 01404 861 392 or 07761 926 628. There are prizes of £50, £25 and £15 for the best poles.

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