COLLIN THE HOBBY HORSE

The fine basket-work Hobby Horse by Peter Spenceler, featured on the front cover and in Tim Power’s feature in the November 2006 issue of Mardles, has found a new Stable. article_4On Boxing Day 2006, at the Dolphin Inn in Wortham, Tim handed over the reins of the Hobby Horse to Ron Ross, Squire of Hoxon Hundred. After more than twenty-five years of confinement in Hamish & Lila Frasers attic in Waldringfield, during which period the Horse came out only once a year for the anniversaries of Douglas Kennedys birthday, the Hobby Horse will now be able to gallop out on Wednesday evenings with Hoxon and also trot along to a few of the Summer festivals and Hoxon Holidays.

Hoxon Hundred are based in the Suffolk village of Hoxne and have been performing Cotswold and Border Morris dances for over twenty years along with North-West Processional and Garland dances, Rapper Sword and Clog step-dances. All of these traditions were displayed at the Dolphin, and, respecting the time of year, Hoxon also sang Carols and performed a Mummers play. Then followed a music & song session (including Mardles rambling session reporter, Dave Cooper) with sandwiches and mince pies, good beer and a proper pub fire. Well done Hoxon and the Dolphin!

Peter Spenceley wrote to Mardles “ see the letters page “ to say that the first outing of Hoxne Hundred & the Hobby Horse would be at the Dolphin.

The Hobby Horse was with the ˜Whirligigs™, a London dance group led by Marjorie Fennessy, on their visit to Angers in central France. “This was in 1955”, said Mike Isaacs, a past member of the group who provided the photo of the Whirligigs with the Hobby Horse in Angers. However for many years the Horse lay in the attic at Cecil Sharp House until found and refurbished by the Fraser’s in 1980. Its current revival came about because Heather Bexon wanted to borrow a hobby horse for a ˜folk day™ at Hillcroft school, and heard about the Horse at one of the Fraser™s events from Tim Power, who also lives in Waldringfield. After the folk day, Hamish & Lila decided to pass the Horse to a group who would make more use of it, and Mike Bexon suggested Hoxon Hundred, being a well-established side performing a good variety of dance traditions. And so it came to pass!

Thanks to Mardles, the Horse has once again come to the notice of the EFDSS. Hilary Blanford, wife of the original Mr Mardles, invited the Horse back to Cecil sharp House in February 2007 to attend The Return of Albert, a re-creation of the London Folk festivals at the Royal Albert Hall in the 1960s and 70s. This may well be the first of many such outings, because the (now) Hoxon Hobby Horse is one of only a pair. Peter Spenceley made a similar horse for the “Beau of London City” Morris side a few years before making the Hoxon horse, but the Beau side disbanded last year. So what became of the first one? Will they ever meet again? Whatever else may happen, I hope that Hoxon will carry on the ancient tradition, and that the Hoxon Horse will provide an element of extra entertainment for their audiences for many years to come.
Maybe one of the sides handymen will be able to adapt the horse to eat money, like the Kentish “Hooden Horses” and the Broadstairs dragon, “Clarence”, so that the horse can earn his keep, and pay for any necessary attention from the local basket-makers.
On behalf on Hoxon Hundred I extend grateful thanks to Peter Spenceley and Hamish and Lila Fraser for allowing the side to care for what is indeed a Morris masterpiece.

Article submitted by by Mike Bexon, Mardles on Friday 19 Jan 2007 at 15:46