When: 27th – 30th May 2016
Where: Combe Martin, Devon
£: Free to watch, but collections are made in the village during the weekend to cover costs and help good causes
What is it?
Revived in 1974, The Hunting of the Earl of Rone is Combe Martin’s unique annual custom.
For four days over the bank holiday weekend, the north Devon village is taken over with some strange antics as the villagers are joined by the Grenadiers, the Hobby Horse and the fool in the search for the ‘Earl of Rone’.
Every year the captured ‘Earl of Rone’ is paraded through the village, back-to-front, on a donkey. He is led down towards the beach where he is ‘shot’ and thrown into the sea. Villagers, and locals from the surrounding area, dress up and join in the festivities.
But who is the Earl of Rone? And why are people hunting him? There are several theories about how the custom began but no one knows for sure. One theory is that, fleeing Ireland Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, was shipwrecked and hid in the woods until he was captured by Grenadiers. No one is sure of the truth, or why the Devon village chose to start acting out the events.
Whatever the reason, Combe Martin continues to act out this little custom every May with a series of playful events.
This year ‘the hunt’ begins on Friday 27th May, commencing at Holdstone Way, at the top end of the village. Saturday 28th May is Junior Party Day, leaving from the school at 11am, followed by a social evening at The Stable from 7.30pm.
On Sunday 29th May, a leisurely hunt takes place through the village, starting from Sandaway Holiday Park, near the parish boundary on the Ilfracombe road. Finally on Monday 30th May, the Earl is caught, and there is a full procession from Lady’s Wood to the beach.
Visitors are most welcome to watch and join in with the festivities.
More info: www.earl-of-rone.org.uk