The Whitstable Hoodeners

“Hoodening” is an ancient Christmas custom, peculiar to Kent. It involves a group of singers and musicians in traditional costumes making the rounds of pubs, house parties and festivals in the run-up to Christmas and after till Twelfth Night. Traditional and seasonal songs and tunes are performed as well a ritual drama called “Hoodening”, involving a mock ferocious known as the Hooden Horse.

Hoodening is many hundreds of years old and was once widespread through Kent but like many rural customs declined and all but disappeared between the wars. The Hooden Horse of revived in Whitstable in 1952 and has continued to the present day with the same Horse although head and body have been replaced several time!

The main characters are:-

  • The Hooden Horse
  • The Waggoner in top hat, tail-coat and carrying a whip.
  • The Molly or Man-Woman dressed in skirt, bonnet and shawl carrying a broom.
  • The Rider in flat cap and waistcoat who actually rides the Horse and is ‘orribly killed every time the Horse objects.
  • The Fool in multicoloured suit.
  • Along with the other musicians and singers who make up the party, all are collectively know as Hoodeners.