Old Haxey tradition set to be revived
After being in abeyance since about 2012 the old tradition of appointing Townsmen and the letting of the meres is set to be revived in Haxey. The custom seems to have been started in the early 1800’s and was carried out in Haxey, Westwoodside, Burnham & Eastlound, Westwoodside is the only letting/appointment still active, where it is held every three years, using the traditional candle & pin auction. Haxey’s was held annually using traditional auction method at alternating pubs in the village.
The meres are parcels of land such as verges, lanes & pinfolds, in the past the successful bidders would use the land for the grazing of animals or growing small areas of crops. Now it is to all intents & purposes ceremonial, the areas of land can be very small or may be up to an acre or just above. It's difficult to say how many there used to be but probably about a dozen, currently 8 have been identified, some have been lost due to incorporation into larger fields over time. Monies raised from the auction, usually tens of pounds in total, go towards maintenance & upkeep, at one time the Townsmen purchased hot cross buns which were distributed to younger village children.
The tradition seems to have come to an end mainly because of the potential public liability insurance costs, Haxey Parish Council have tried unsuccessfully in the past to revive the tradition, but are supporting the efforts of the group with the project. Although the old ledgers & account books seem to have disappeared some old documents have been supplied by former Townsmen which is enabling us, after quite a lot of research & access to reminiscences of former Townsmen to take the tradition forward.
A public meeting for residents of Haxey village, was held at 18:30 on the 18th October 2021 in the Cricket Pavillion, Haxey Playing Field, to appoint interim Townsmen/Women, to enable them to familiarise themselves with the land involved & take ownership of the project, with the support of WLH-H & Haxey PC. The meres were not let at that meeting, they were let on Easter Monday, 18 April 2022, in the Kings Haxey.