This bank holiday weekend, villagers in Devon will be hunting down an ‘Earl’, as part of a quirky annual custom.
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 strange antics, as the villagers are joined by Grenadiers, a Hobby Horse and a Fool, as they search for the ‘Earl of Rone’.
Once a 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 with these strange festivities. But don’t worry, no real person, Earl or otherwise, is hunted down and shot!
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, revelling in this unusual series of playful events.
This year ‘the hunt’ will begin on Friday 24th May, gathering at The Dolphin Inn at 7pm for the first procession of the weekend. On Saturday, a second procession, for children, will leave from the school at 11am. Later, a social evening with local musicians playing, will take place in the stable, getting everyone in the mood for the main event.
On Sunday afternoon, a leisurely hunt takes place through the village, starting from Sandway at 1.30pm. Finally, on the Monday, 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!
When: 24th – 27th May 2019
Where: Combe Martin, Devon
More info: www.earl-of-rone.org.uk