Hungerford Tutti Day – history that makes us famous.

on 08 April 2014.

Hungerford’s patron John of Gaunt (Ghent), 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399) on engraving from the 1800s. Member of the House of Plantagenet and the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault

Once a time for collecting tax and now a time for collecting kisses, Hungerford’s Hocktide Tutti Day has made the town internationally famous as being the only place still to celebrate this medieval occasion.

Tutti Day has been a major event in Hungerford since the Middle Ages when Hocktide, with Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas days, was one of the quarterly collection days for commoner’s rent and dues for manorial land and fishing rights.

Hocktide marked the end of the town’s financial year and has always been associated with the town’s original patron, John O’Gaunt.

It was – and still is in Hungerford – the day of the Hocktide Court, presided over by the Constable who, this year is Susan Hofgartner, which originally administered and settled disputes over the open field farming of the commoners.

Traditionally, the Bellman (town crier) summons the commoners to the Hocktide Court while two florally dressed Tutti Men and an Orange Man, accompanied by six Tutti girls, visit every commoner’s house (around one hundred of them) to collect ‘head pennies’ which ensured fishing on the rivers Kennet and Dun and grazing rights on the Common and Freemans Marsh.

It’s all became a bit more pleasurable as tax collection gave way to the Tutti Men collecting kisses from each lady in the house instead.

Until the 16th century, Hocktide was celebrated through the country. Henry V111 banned the festivities as he thought they encouraged public disorder but Elizabeth 1 reinstated it in 1575. By the 17th century Hocktide celebrations had faded away apart from in Hungerford where it is still a major day in the town’s calendar and a great event for residents and visitors alike.

Getting fruity with the Tutti Men
The Tutti men went above and beyond duty this year to collect their kisses; symbolic of the tradition of collecting rent from the commoner’s houses owned by the John O' Gaunt estate, as one was seen claiming a ladder to fashion one!

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