Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/338

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

302 Hampshire Folklore.

the ground on which the Kentish Fair is held is known as Cuckold's Point.^2 This makes for the meaning intended in " The Boy and the Mantle " ; and in this connection also we find the horn at St. Mary Bourne.

When a man or woman was suspected of infidelity there, it was customary to subject them to the ordeal of " wooset " or " ooset " hunting.^^ The neighbours assembled with ox- horns, and blew them, or other discordant instruments, to collect people. They then marched in procession past the house of the suspected person, making what they called " rough music " with horns, frying pans, marrow bones, and tongs. Sometimes a horse's skull was carried on the top of a pole, with a cross-bar beneath, on which a shift was outstretched. The jawbone was worked with a piece of wood, to make a champing noise.^* Occasionally a pair of horns was fixed to the skull. If the performance took place in the winter they carried turnip lanterns. For three successive nights the noisy procession clattered past. For the next three nights they desisted. This was repeated till the demonstration had been given nine times in all. The people firmly believed that the performance was legal, and could not be officially prevented. ^^

Take with all this the account of May Revels, given by Stubbs in his Anatomie of Abuses, quoted by Brand, and

^^W. Jerrold, Highways and Byways in Kent.

^* This custom has been described by Thomas Hardy in The Mayor of Caster- bridge. Mr. Elworthy, in Horns of Honour, mentions a devil mask called the Dorset Ooser, at Melbury Osmond, "probably worn at the village revel." It has long bullock's horns. At Stourton, near Frome, till about thirteen years ago, there was a village custom called the Christmas Bull. A man dressed up with a bull's head and large horns visited the houses and chased the young people {The Antiquary, October, 1908). Note that W in Hants is often softened to H or dropped, and compare Wooden, Hooden, Wooset, Ooset, whore-set, and Wooser or Ooser.

"The horse's skull with clattering jaw reminds one of the old Thanet hoodening, but that had a very different connection for Kentish men, as it was a Yuletide custom.

^* A full description is given by Stevens in A Parochial History of St. Mary Bourne.