When: 25th – 28th May 2018
Where: Combe Martin, Devon
£: Free to watch, but collections are made in the village during the weekend to help cover costs and contribute to 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 this odd 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 these events.
Whatever the reason, Combe Martin continues to participate in this little custom every May with a series of playful events.
This year ‘the hunt’ will begin on Friday 25th May, gathering at The Dolphin Inn at 7pm. Saturday 26th May is Junior Party Day, leaving from the school at 11am, followed by a 40th anniversary barn dance at the village hall at 7.30pm.
On Sunday 27th May, a leisurely hunt takes place through the village, starting from the Dolphin Inn at 1.30pm. Finally, on Monday 28th May, the Earl is caught, and there is a full procession through the village, beginning from the top of Holdstone Way.
Visitors are most welcome to watch and join in with the festivities!
More info: www.earl-of-rone.org.uk