Mayor of Ock Street 2017

June 17, 2017

The date is June 19th 1700. A line has been drawn in the dust of the Vineyard alongside the brewery. Another line has been drawn at the top of Ock Street near the Square. The people of Abingdon have just enjoyed ox roasted on the Market Place. A famous battle then ensued between the men of the Vineyard and the men of Ock Street for the ox. The combat was fierce as each side fought to bring the ox over their own line. Legend has it that the Vineyard men had nearly succeeded when a man named Hemmings crashed an apple wood cudgel on the head of a Vineyard opponent, cut the ox head from the carcass with a sword, and made it back to the Ock Street Line.
Mayor of Ock Street
Those same horns were on display again 317 years later on a glorious Saturday in 2017 – the nearest Saturday to the original June 19th, when there is a day of morris dancing.
Mayor of Ock Street
The president of the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers is still a Hemmings, namely Mr Ewart Hemmings. His Uncle was the famous Mayor of Ock Street, Tom Hemmings, and his Grandfather was Henry Hemmings – also Mayor of Ock Street.
Mayor of Ock Street
The Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers, with a visiting team from Oxford, danced at many venues along Ock Street and in the town centre, including a new stop outside the Broad Face.
Mayor of Ock Street
After dancing round a tree planted in honour of former bagman, Tony Russell, at the almshouses,
Mayor of Ock Street
they went to another new stop where free beer was provided by Pam, and danced there too.
Mayor of Ock Street
Meanwhile the poll to elect the 2017 Mayor of Ock Street was taking part all day. All people living or working down Ock Street have a vote.
Mayor of Ock Street
The count took place at the Brewery Tap, officiated over by the Town Clerk, the Mayor of Abingdon, and Mr Ewart Hemmings.
Mayor of Ock Street
Roger Cox graciously conceded to Harry Knight who had got double the amount of votes – 61 to 122 . Roger will continue in the role of the fool for the next year, having been Mayor every year from 2007 and 2013.
Mayor of Ock Street
The Mayor of Abingdon, Cllr Jan Morter, presented the Mayor of Ock Street with the sash of office, sword, top hat, and the applewood bowl, whose wood dealt the legendary blow in 1700.
Mayor of Ock Street
Mr Harry Knight was then carried in honour down Ock Street by his men. He has been elected in 2014, 2016, and 2017.

Filed under: traditions

3 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Peter Del  |  June 18, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    A great story well told and illustrated. Catching the dancers in mid air requires split second timing.

  • 2. ppjs  |  June 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I once asked a sports photographer how he had capture the bails coming off the wicket. He replied “Motor drive. Hold your finger down and pick the best.”

    I am not suggesting that Backstreeter would resort to such devious tactics – and I agree, it is a great shot.

  • 3. davidofLuton  |  June 21, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Having spent years photographing ATMD at various functions, you do not need motor drive.

    All you need to do is watch the dance and follow the rhythm of the music. After a couple of minutes it becomes obvious where the jumps will be, and you click accordingly.

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