12 September 2009 - Hop Hoodening, Canterbury

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Each September, Hop Hoodening, a celebration of the hop harvest, is marked by a service held in Canterbury Cathedral when a bine of hops is blessed. For more information on Hop Hoodening, visit the Wantsum Morris web site.

Kettle Bridge Clogs were very honoured to be invited to take part in the celebrations and, especially as it is our Silver Jubilee year, asked to perform within the Cathedral as part of the service.

Before the service, all the invited sides gathered in the Cathedral precincts, namely -

At the appointed time, the sides formed a procession led by the Hop Queen and her Princesses, all adorned in hops. The long and colourful line of performers danced through the precincts and into the cathedral. At this point, the procession's progress was rather more sedate and respectful as it made its way to the far end of the cathedral into the Quire in readiness for the service. I think it would have been more appropriate if they had hopped, but there you go.

The service featured a number of hymns and readings and an address by the Archdeacon of Canterbury. This was followed by a faultless performance by Kettle Bridge Clogs of a Silver Jubilee Dance (which incidentally bore a striking resemblance to Colne!).
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The Archdeacon then blessed the hops and this was followed by prayers and more hymns including, appropriately enough, Lord of the Dance. With the service complete, the congregation made its way back outside.

Each side was then invited to perform a show dance in front of the cathedral for which Kettle Bridge's contribution was St. Helens. Once this was complete, the dancers embarked on a tour of Canterbury with stands at various locations within the city.

Then it was time for a welcome break and some lunch kindly provided by the organisers at the Dominican Priory. Next on the agenda was a parade through Canterbury where "other halves" were press-ganged into carrying the spare equipment while the ladies danced.

On arrival at Rose Square, the sides took turns to perform show dances, with Kettle Bridge doing the crowd-pleasing Yellow Rose. A spectacular end to a wonderfully memorable day.