News Museum opens with look at folk lore

Museum opens with look at folk lore image

Maidstone Museum reopens for 2023 on Wednesday 8 February with a fascinating look at Animal Guising and the Kentish Hooden Horse, as part of an exhibition running until 17 Jun 2023.

The free exhibition unites Maidstone Museum’s two old Hooden Horses with their early surviving cousins: Morris Dancing revival horses, Northern skull horses, the Old Tup, the Welsh Mari Lwyd, West Country Obby Osses and ancient stag disguises. It explores the traditional Christmas house-calling custom of Hoodening, its revival, and a recent reinvention, Autohoodening, a new kind of folk performance about the uncertainty of contemporary seasonal working.

The hoodening theme runs in many of the Museum’s upcoming events with a free Hoodening Family Fun Day on Sat 11 Feb 10am to 3.30pm with musicians and a theatre group performing. A whole ‘Beastmaking’ Arts Awards day is also available for children aged 8 to 11years for £30.

Join an evening of Folklore and Traditional Customs on Mon 13 Feb 6pm to 8pm which starts with a talk by Professor Ronald Hutton from the University of Bristol, tickets are just £12.

During the February Half Term, Tues 14 to Thurs 16 Feb, children aged 4 to 11 years can take part in Make It! Crafts events between 10.30am to 2.30pm for £3 a session, themes are linked to Animal Guising and the Kentish Hooden Horse.

Cllr Claudine Russell, Lead Member for Leisure and Arts at MBC said:

This fascinating look into the history of the Hooden horse and folklore will be brought to life with a variety of displays, talks and performances. Come along and  experience it brought to life around the museum.

Maidstone Museum is owned and run by the Council, it is an important part of our heritage and is free to enter. One of our key aims is to offer a vibrant leisure and culture offer, which is enjoyed by residents and attractive to visitors, these events are an important part of that.

Curator of the Animal Guising and the Kentish Hooden Horse exhibition, James Frost added:

The exhibition is aimed at the general public as well as specialist groups interested in seasonal customs, folklore, ritual drama, folk horror, rural landscape and workers’ rights. There will be performances from modern Hoodening teams across Kent and artists exploring the custom in a contemporary context.

There will be broadcasts on the Folklore Podcast and public talks by Prof. Ronald Hutton, Dr Geoff Doel, George Frampton, Ben Jones, Ben Edge and Mark Norman. The Hooden Horse will be brought to life around the town and museum on event days during the exhibition.

A significant exhibition catalogue has been written by the curator James Frost, with contributions from Dr Geoff Doel, Ben Jones and many other Hoodeners and Hoodening teams. It is available at online booksellers, and will be on sale in the museum for the duration of the exhibition:

For more information of all exhibitions and events at Maidstone Museum visit:

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