The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Custom at Hornchurch in Essex

For Christmas

Source: William Hone, The Every-Day Book. Vol. 2 of 2. (London: William Tegg, 1827), p. 825.

See: Notes On The Boar's Head Carols


For the Every-Day Book.

On Christmas-day, the following Custom has been observed at Hornchurch, in Essex, from time immemorial. The lessee of the tithes, which belong to New College, Oxford, supplies a boars head dressed, and garnished with bay-leaves, &c. In the afternoon, it is carried in procession into the Mill Field, adjoining the church-yard, where it is wrestled for; and it is afterwards feasted upon, at one of the public-houses, by the rustic conqueror and his friends, with all the merriment peculiar to the season.

And here it may be observed, that there is another custom, at this place, of having a model of an oxs head, with horns, affixed on the top of the eastern end of the chancel of the church. A few years ago it had been suffered to fall into decay; but in the year 1824 it was renewed by the present vicar. This church formerly belonged to the convent on Mount St. Bernard in Savoy; and it has been suggested, that the oxs head, with the horns, may perhaps be the arms or crest of the convent, and that the custom, as well as the name of the place, originated from that circumstance. I shall be happy to be informed whether this suggestion be founded on matter of fact; and if not, to what other cause the custom can be assigned.


Editor's Note:

I have no idea who "Ignotus" was, beyond the fact that he or she contributed this bit of information to Mr. Horn for inclusion in The Every Day Book.

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