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Minehead Hobby Horse


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One of England's two surviving traditional hobby horses, although less spectacular, and less well known, than the Padstow Hobby Horse. He makes his appearance in the streets of Minehead, Somerset, briefly on the eve of May Day, on the Day itself, and the following two days, accompanied by musicians and attendants called Gullivers. These attendants had ceased to appear in the late 19th century, but were reintroduced in 1967. A description of the horse, from 1895, shows that it has not changed significantly to the present day:a wooden framework about 6 feet long of this [boat] shape and narrow enough to rest on a man's shoulders; his head, covered by a hideous mask, appearing in the middle. All round the framework was nailed a drapery of sacking, reaching the ground, very rudely painted with circles, principally blue and white and a long hempen tail at one end was used to swish the boys and passers-by… The upper part of the framework was covered with odds and ends of ribbon hanging on both sides… (L. Chaworth Musters: MS note in Gomme papers, Folklore Society Archives, dated June 1895).

a wooden framework about 6 feet long of this [boat] shape and narrow enough to rest on a man's shoulders; his head, covered by a hideous mask, appearing in the middle. All round the framework was nailed a drapery of sacking, reaching the ground, very rudely painted with circles, principally blue and white and a long hempen tail at one end was used to swish the boys and passers-by… The upper part of the framework was covered with odds and ends of ribbon hanging on both sides… (L. Chaworth Musters: MS note in Gomme papers, Folklore Society Archives, dated June 1895).

The earliest known account dates from 1830 and describes a ‘grotesque figure’ made by fishermen and sailors (James Savage, History of the Hundred of Carhampton in the County of Somerset (1830), 583–4).

Cawte, 1978:168–74;Patten, 1974.


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