Wrestling For The Boar’s Head. 1800’s Hornchurch, Essex, England.
This article is dedicated to my dear friend, the four-time British Heavyweight Pro Wrestling Champion, Mr. Tony St. Clair.
I am happy to share materials from my “English Folk Wrestling Collection” related to the old English Christmas tradition of having an annual knock-out wrestling tournament with the prize of a boar’s head. That Medieval custom survived till the XIX century and was still actively practiced in the village of Hornchurch, Essex till 1869. Unfortunately, the newspaper reports and the memoirs of the witnesses (both these credible evidences will follow the foreword) of those wrestling matches don’t provide details regarding the style of wrestling which was practiced by the local peasants. But most likely it was old English “Hugg Wrastelynge” a folkstyle wrestling of Norse Viking & Norman origin and which was commonly known in Britain as the “Cornish Hug” trial of strength. Below I am giving the “Rules of The Hugg Wrastelynge”.
THE TABLE BOOK; BY WILLIAM HONE.
VOLUME I. WITH SEVENTY ENGRAVINGS, 1827
“The Cornish hug is a tremendous struggle for victory. Both grasp alike, and not much science is required. It only takes place where each conceives himself to be the stronger of the two. It is either right or left. If right, each man has his right hand on the other's loins on the left side, and his left hand on the right shoulder; they stand face to face, and each strives to draw his adversary towards him, and grasp him round the waist, till the hug becomes close, and the weakest man is forced backward - the other falling heavily upon him. This is a very sure and hard fall”. By Sam Sam's Son, October 8, 1827.
There’s a chance that the “Hornchurch Wrestling” could have been less peaceful traditional English “Coler Wrastelynge” with its tripping and brutal shin kicking. The beautiful 1400s watching loft’s wood carving from the St. Alban's Cathedral and Abbey Church at St. Albans in the neighbor Hertfordshire shows such wrestling match between the two local peasants.
Enjoy the read.
Thanks, Ruslan C Pashayev.
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