10 September 2011 - Hop Hoodening, Canterbury

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Hop to it!
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Kettle Bridge were honoured to be invited to take part once again in the annual Hop Hoodening celebration hosted by Wantsum Morris. The day includes a service held in Canterbury Cathedral when a bine of hops is blessed.

The sides scheduled to be involved this year, in addition to Kettle Bridge and Wantsum were

The weather was warm but overcast as the sides assembled in the Cathedral precincts. Here there was an opportunity to adorn yourself with hops left over from the dressing of the hop arch used by the Hop Queen.

At the appropriate signal, all the assembled sides lined up behind the Hop Queen to process through the precincts and into the Cathedral. Led by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury (Councillor Ian Thomas), the Hop Queen (Jessica Maliphant) and her Princesses (Charlotte Watkins and Annalie Weitzel), they made their way up the centre aisle and into the Quire. Once all the dancers, musicians, guests and spectators were seated, the Service of Celebration and Blessing of the Hops began.

The Order of Service included the appropriate and well-known hymns -

  • Come, ye thankful people come which celebrates the harvest
  • All things bright and beautiful
  • We plough the fields
  • Lord of the Dance
These were interspersed with a reading by the Lord Mayor, an address and blessing of the hops by the Vice Dean (Claire Edwards) and some prayers. The celebratory dance was Hathaway's performed by Chipping Campden which was excellently executed and well appreciated by all.

With the service complete, the sides made their way out of the Cathedral for a well-earned glass of ale. Then it was time for each side to perform a dance just outside the Cathedral, Kettle Bridge choosing Prescot with which to entertain the crowds.

Once all the sides had performed, we were allocated to one of the dancing tours of the city accompanied by East Kent and Kent Country Folk. This was an excellent combination as, between us, we were able to demonstrate three different styles of dancing.

Our first stand was at Butter Market where Kettle Bridge performed Aughton and Garstang. Unfortunately I do not have any photographs of these displays as I was busy buying a camera to replace the one I had broken earlier in the day! With perfect timing, I caught up with the dancers again just as they had finished and in time for the lunch break. As last year, this was at the Dominican Priory and featured a fine pasta meal and complementary glass of ale.

Suitably refreshed, we made our way to The Cricketers pub on the High Street. At this stand, Kettle Bridge danced Annie's and Colne. During the latter dance, a passing young "gentleman" decided to walk deliberately into the middle of the dancers before being escorted from the scene by the Kettle Bridge bouncer and roadie.

Next it was a short walk up to the pasty shop for a performance of Manx while we waited for the final procession to form. There was some doubt as to whether the procession would actually take place due to the vast crowds in the High Street. However, the go-ahead was finally given and, so that Kettle Bridge could take part, Caroline, Carol, Mary and Steve were loaded up with all the bags and garlands while the rest of the dancers and band took their place in the procession.

With an appreciative crowd lining the route, we made our way to Rose Square where each side was then invited to perform a show dance. Kettle Bridge obliged with the ever-impressive Ealuscerwen. Proceedings were brought to a climax with an all-in performance of Fieldtown "Balance the Straw".

With the dancing over, this was the cue for Kettle Bridge to make their way to a local coffee shop for refreshments. A great end to a spectacular day.


As always, there are plenty of people to thank for making the day so successful. Firstly Wantsum for inviting us and organising the day so well. The squire and foreman must be thanked for all their efforts before and on the day and the band for their excellent accompaniment to the dancers.

On a personal note, I have to thank Tony Withers and Rosie Leitch for allowing me to use their photographs in this report, following the demise of my own camera.
Click here to see Tony's personal web site and click here to see his full set of Canterbury pictures.