by Percy Maylam, ed. Ben Jones
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 little serious research has gone into the tradition other than this seminal work, first published in 1909, and George Frampton's Discordant Comicals, published a hundred years later.
Percy Maylam's "The Hooden Horse: an East Kent Christmas Custom" was long the definitive work on Hoodening — indeed, the only full-scale study of the custom. It covered the current practice in Thanet at the start of the 20th century, past printed records, theories about its possible demise, similar customs in other parts of England and Germany, and speculation about its ancient, possibly pagan origins.
Although Frampton has arguably superseded Maylam as the authority on Hoodeners and their activities, his book still takes Maylam as a basis to explore what happened since his time. Maylam's original work is indispensable even now, but the first format is very rare, as only 303 copies were printed, and only a reduced edition appeared later.
This new eBook includes the whole of Maylam's text, with numerous features to help those wanting to push the research further — even those lucky enough to have a copy of the 1909 hardback. There are copious annotations, internal hyperlinks, images of and external links to original sources, and appendices with contemporary reviews. The eBook naturally allows readers to search the whole text, yet the page numbers are still present to enable cross-referencing to Frampton and others (N.B. some of the functionality may vary, depending on the device used to read the book). The list of subscribers (which was omitted from another edition) is present, along with brief biographical notes on many of them, to show who was reading Maylam and what impact he would have had at the time.
The book is therefore a vital source of information for anyone interested in folk drama, including mumming. It is rigorously academic by the standards of the day, but also remains readable for general fans of the genre. This edition also contains updated versions of the early 20C photographs.
|21 December 2021