When: 26th July 2016
Where: Honiton, Devon
What is it?
What does a Town Cryer, a decorated pole, a glove, and some warmed up coins have in common? Give up? The answer is Honiton’s Hot Pennies Day.
This quirky tradition dates back to the 13th century when the market town was awarded a Royal Charter. The ceremony takes place annually on the first Tuesday after 19th July, so this year’s event takes place on 26th July.
But what is the Hot Pennies Day? The traditional ceremony begins at 12 noon, at the Old Pannier Market. The Town Cryer, accompanied by The Mayor and local dignitaries, hoists up a garlanded pole with a gloved hand at the top, proclaiming that “No man may be arrested so long as this glove is up.”
This curious proclamation was originally done to ensure that everyone would come to Honiton for the fair, without fear of being arrested for their debts (otherwise people may have stayed away). Traditionally the fair would have taken place after this ceremony.
Following the proclamation, pennies are thrown from the balcony of the former Assembly Rooms, above the Old Pannier Market. Then a procession follows the garlanded pole to a number of Public Houses from which “hot pennies” are thrown to the public. The special pole is kept on show for the remainder of “fair week” at the last Public House visited by the procession.
But why are hot pennies thrown to the public? The reason is (rather cruelly), Honiton’s more affluent residents once enjoyed throwing pennies and watching the peasants burn their fingers whilst collecting them. The pennies are still thrown today, but they are merely warm, rather than hot!
More info: www.honiton.gov.uk