Discordant Comicals

The Hooden Horse of East Kent

by George Frampton

Book cover

Hoodening is an ancient calendar custom unique to East Kent, involving a wooden horse’s head on a pole, carried by a man concealed by a sack. The earliest reliable record is from 1735, but other than Percy Maylam’s seminal work “The Hooden Horse”, published in 1909 (and reissued by Ozaru Books in 2021), little serious research has gone into the tradition.

George Frampton has rectified this, by taking Maylam as a starting point then cross-referencing dozens of newspaper reports, census records and other accounts to build a comprehensive picture of who the Hoodeners were, why (and where) they did it, how it related to other folk traditions, and why the custom appeared to die out from time to time.

He then goes beyond Maylam to look at the ‘demise’ of Hoodening in around 1921, its widely heralded ‘revival’ in 1966, and discovers that this narrative is in fact quite misleading, as several Hooden Horses were still active throughout that period. He includes descriptions of the current teams, and supplies plentiful appendices detailing past participants, places visited, songs performed, events on Hoodening’s timeline, and the horses themselves.

Full indices make it easy for modern Men and Maids of Kent to check whether their ancestors might have been involved, and detailed references make this an invaluable resource for social historians too.

The book features over 70 full colour illustrations.

You may also be interested in Animal Guising and the Kentish Hooden Horse, a later publication in the same field.


The Folklore Podcast wrote:

"you could not ask for a more in-depth look at the custom than this one […] meticulous and full-formed examination of a folk tradition […] Mention should be made also of the quality of publication put out by Ozaru Books […] beautifully presented in hardback with a paper stock as white as the driven snow and more colour than can be found in your average book of its type […] beautifully illustrated […] its price tag is still reasonable"

The Morris Dancer wrote:

"a good read for the interested layman as well as a valuable resource for anyone interested in the custom of Hoodening […] (a) thorough gathering together of all available information on (the) subject […] This book needed to be written, and it is fortunate that the task fell into the competent hands of George Frampton."

The Living Tradition wrote:

"His very readable research is backed up with generous quotations from the older source materials. This approach is much more valuable and interesting than the common practice of citations and precis […] a welcome and important addition to the rather small canon of literature exploring our "beasts of disguise" traditions […] reveals a tale of rich cultural heritage."

Around Kent Folk wrote (June/July 2019 issue):

"obviously thoroughly researched […] very well presented […] full of previously un-published interviews with traditional Hoodeners […] as well as in depth analysis […] extremely interesting and a valuable resource for anyone interest[ed] in the folk traditions"

The Journal of Folklore Research (based at Indiana University) wrote:

"provides numerous anecdotes that reveal experiences with and attitudes towards the hooden horse tradition during these decades in which it has not been examined in previous studies […] provides a sense of the scope and history of the rarely studied practice of hoodening, with substantial direct quotations from his informants […] offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive starting point for any scholar interested in the practice of hoodening […] documents the adoption and repurposing of local and international calendar customs to suit the needs and interests of various individual performers and communities over time […] sheds light on the roles of kinship, gender, race, class, material culture, and regional identity"

Master Mummers wrote:

"attractively published in hardback with numerous colour illustrations […] a comprehensive sourcebook […] gathers together all the available historical records of hoodening, quoting them in full within a readable linking narrative […] provides a clear insight […] A lot of admirable spadework and academic endeavour […] copious references are given throughout"

Archæologia Cantiana wrote:

"Frampton has left no stone unturned in his research […] there is a very useful index, which helps make this a book to dip into profitably"

Dancing On (the Open Morris magazine) wrote:

"many admirable strengths […] richly illustrated with colour photographs […] a handsome volume […] Supported by comprehensive appendices, the richness of source material contained in this book makes it a valuable resource for anybody interested in folk customs."

Blogger Kris Hughes wrote:

"a gold mine for researchers and enthusiasts […] extremely well indexed […] liberally illustrated with both modern and historical photos"

Tykes' News wrote:

"visually attractive […] profusely illustrated and printed in colour, it’s a treat for the eyes […] a meticulous and detailed account […] a compelling and intriguing volume"

(Here is their complete review: click to enlarge)

Richard Maylam — relative of Percy Maylam, and co-editor of the 2009 reissue of Percy Maylam's original "The Hooden Horse" — wrote on Amazon (with a 5-star review):

"Well researched […] most informative"

Folk London wrote:

"The writing style is very much that of the academic […] an invaluable work for anybody with a serious interest in the custom."

Folk Music Journal wrote of the first edition:

"This is a well-researched, interesting, and readable study. It does a very good job of recording the details and context of a folk tradition and is a valuable addition to folklore and hobby horse literature."

Morris Matters wrote of the first edition:

"George […] is recognised as an authority […] an authoritative and comprehensive account of an East Kent custom"

See here for a report on the launch event, which was attended by numerous Hoodeners and Horses from across Kent and beyond.

As mentioned in the book, here is the clickable version of the map showing historical Hoodening locations.

We've noticed a few errata in the first printing, mainly formatting gremlins and cross-references, which will be corrected in the next printing:

List of names

For genealogists or other enthusiasts researching family trees in and around Thanet or Canterbury, here is a copy of the main surnames in the index:

Abbott, Adams, Alford, Anderson, Axon, Baker, Barrett, Barwick, Bateman, Beale, Bean, Bell, Beney, Benham, Bennett Smith, Bensley, Bensted, Bleazey, Bolton, Bowles, Brade-Birks, Brazier, Broadley, Brockman, Browning, Buck, Burkin, Burton, Bushell, Bywaters, Capon, Carr, Cassels, Castle, Cawte, Chapman, Chawner, Cheale, Chidwick, Christian, Cladish, Clark, Clarke, Clayson, Clear, Cole, Collard, Collis, Coomber, Courtenay, Cowper, Crow, Culver, Dawson, Debenham, Deller, Denne, Doel, Domonic, Duff, Dwyer, Ellen, Evans, Fagge, Fairbrass, Faires, Farebrother, Field, File, Fleet, Fletcher, Fraser, Frazer, Friend, Frost, Gallop, Gardner, Garratt, Gibbs, Goodsall, Goodson, Gosnold, Graves, Gray, Grayland, Greensted, Hall, Hamilton, Hams, Harden, Harris, Hearn, Helm, Hole, Holliday, Holton, Hope, Howland, Hubbard, Hunt-Cook, Hunter, Jacobs, Janes, Jardine-Rose, Jones, Joyce, Kane, Kemp, Kenward, Kipling, Kuhn, Lacy, Laming, Land, Larkins, Lawrence, Lawson, Lee, Light, Lill, Linington, Lockwood, Loft, Lombard, Ludlow, Lynn, Machin, Mantle, Marsh, Martin, May, Maylam, McGlennon, McKenna, Michelmore, Miles, Miller, Millington, Mockett, Molly, Moore, Mowll, Neame, Nixon, Noble, O’Connor, Oliver, Page, Paice, Parker, Patterson, Paul, Payne, Pearch, Pearson, Pegge, Penny, Pharos, Phillpott, Polley, Port, Prescott, Prout, Quested, Ralph, Rashleigh, Reed, Revell, Ritchie, Roach, Roberts, Roper, Sackett, Saunders, Scamp, Schwartz, Scott Robertson, Sharp, Sheppard, Skardon, Sladden, Small, Smith, Solley, Sperling, Strickland, Stubbs, Sullivan, Swannack, Swing, Sykes, Tasker, Terry, Theodore, Thom/Tom, Thomas, Thomson, Tomlin, Tooley, Trice, Tuff, Turnbull, Usher, Venables, Vickers, Vidler, West, White, Whitehead, Wiffen, Williams, Wood, Wyatt.

Note: long after publication, we discovered that the information about Bert Miles (maker of the Chislet horse) in this book is inaccurate, due to confusion between several people of the same name: Ethel's husband (Herbert Sidney), his father (Herbert Henry, the maker), his cousin (also Herbert Henry) and another (unconnected) Herbert Henry. On page 76 and 189-190 it lists his dates as 1883-1971/2 and his father as Frederick Miles, b. 1852 Herne Hill. In fact his dates were 1864-1941, and his father Francis Miles, b. 1839 Sarre. The comment about his being (Ethel's) "grandfather" is hence also incorrect: he was her father-in-law.

Format Royal Octavo colour hardback
Published 1 December 2018
ISBN 978-0-9931587-7-3
Length 250 pages
Available All good booksellers, including Amazon. For other options see our contact page.