This film is part of Free

Obby Oss Man of Padstow

The hobby horse is unleashed on the townspeople of Padstow.

News 1962 6 mins

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It’s Mayday and out of the stable comes the Hobby Horse led by its Teaser - Oss oss wee oss is shouted by the crowd. This year Colonel Bate is donning the Obby Oss costume as he has done for the last fifty-six years. Traditional music of drums and accordion, and costumed dancers accompany the oss through the town. Is it a fertility rite of spring or to ward off the Viking invader? In the 1400s hobby horses use to be a small ponies but they became a costume often worn by Morris dancers.

Folk traditions and hobby horse customs are repeated across Europe and have similar representations of a black horse, beast or other mythical creatures. Mummers plays performed by actors known as guisers or mummers attest to folk traditions by reviving old songs and stories to crowds on traditional holidays such as May Day, Plough Day or Summer and Winter Solstices. Mummers meaning disguised persons may find its origin also in sword dancing and Mummers plays for the feast day of St George on 23 April and other saints’ days. In Padstow two Osses from rival pubs face off at the Maypole before being banished for another year. Hobbies as horses and mumming are thought to date back to the reign of Henry VII.