Planting the Penny Hedge

Planting the Penny Hedge

Between April 29 and June 2; eve of Ascension Day
The Penny Hedge—"penny" meaning penance—is a fence of interlaced stakes and boughs that is built along the water's edge at Boyes Staith, near Whitby, England. It is set up early in the morning on the eve of Ascension Day and should be sturdy enough to survive three tides.
According to the local legend, in 1159 three noblemen were out hunting a wild boar. When the animal took refuge in a hermitage occupied by a monk from Whitby Abbey, the holy man closed his door and refused to release it. The hunters were so angry that they beat the monk with their staves to the point of death. When the abbot of Whitby arrived on the scene, he decided that the hunters should receive a heavy punishment, but the dying monk convinced him otherwise. Instead, the abbot ordered them to build a hedge every year on the shore of Whitby Harbor while the bailiff blew a horn, announced a summary of their offences, and shouted, "Out on ye!" The first hedge was set up in 1160.
Today the story of the crime is no longer recited during the performance of the task, nor is the hedge still built by the descendants of the murderers. It is usually the harbor master himself who continues the tradition by building the hedge, while church and civil dignitaries, along with townspeople and visitors, look on.
CONTACTS:
Whitby Tourist Information Centre
Langborne Rd.
Whitby, North Yorkshire YO21 1YN United Kingdom
44-19-4760-2674
SOURCES:
EngCustUse-1941, p. 62
YrbookEngFest-1954, p. 224
YrFest-1972, p. 33
References in periodicals archive ?
The 800-year-old tradition of planting the Penny Hedge in Whitby Harbour has taken place.