8 September 2012 - Hop Hoodening, Canterbury

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A beautiful sunny day blessed the annual Hop Hoodening celebration hosted by Wantsum Morris. Once again, Kettle Bridge were delighted to be asked to take part and we had a good turn out of dancers and musicians. Unfortunately, Sue had a very nasty insect bite on her leg which meant that she was unable to dance but she gamely hobbled round supporting the side for the whole day.

We gathered as usual in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral but our route to the entrance was blocked by fire engines. Further investigation showed that a car had gone down the slope and hit the side of the building and the Fire Service was in attendance to rescue the vehicle. An ambulance also turned up but hopefully no-one was injured.

The emergency vehicles managed to create enough room for the dancing procession to make its way alongside the cathedral and into the building. Apart from Wantsum, the other sides accompanying us were:

Once everyone was inside the cathedral, the service to celebrate the hop harvest and bless the hops was led by The Reverend Christopher Irvine (Vice Dean). Guests of honour were:

  • Councillor Heather Taylor, Sheriff of Canterbury
  • Jessica Maliphant, Hop Queen
  • Lizzie Beech-Garwood and Annalie Weitzel, Hop Princesses
The service featured appropriate hymns and prayers and a performance of The Benz by Oyster Morris. After the blessing, the dignitaries and dancers made their way out of the cathedral again into the sunshine.

Once outside, there was the traditional glass of beer waiting for everyone while each side took turns to perform a show dance. Kettle Bridge's contribution to the spectacle was KBC Processional which was very well received by the assembled crowd.

With all the show dances complete, the sides split into groups to take part in the dancing tours of the city. Kettle Bridge were paired up with Ravensbourne and our first stand together was at Sun Street where we danced Prescot and Annies. Then it was time for a well-earned break and an excellent lunch at St. Dominican's Priory.

The second stand of the tour was at the Beer Festival site. Although this featured quite a small dancing area, the crowd were very enthusiastic, obviously because of the excellent performance we put on and absolutely nothing to do with the abundance of alcohol being consumed. Aughton and Colne were followed by Churchtown which was particularly significant as it was Eva's first dance out. Congratulations to her and well done on an excellent performance!

There was just time for a performance of Cossington in the High Street before we had to make our way to the Pasty Shop where all sides were congregating ready for the final procession. Here Tim and Steve were loaded up with all the side's excess paraphernalia so that we could take part in the procession which made its way through the city to Rose Square.

This was the setting for the final performances of the day, with each side doing an individual show dance. Kettle Bridge selected St. Helens from their repertoire for their contribution.

With all the dancing complete, we took the opportunity to have a refreshing cuppa before we all made our way home.


P.S. I will take this opportunity to thank John Facer for allowing me to use his excellent photos on this web site.