RIDING THE STANG
This account has been adapted from Miss L.M.Owston’s book
‘HUNMANBY – A STORY OF TEN CENTURIES’
Copyright:- Ces.Mowthorpe. 2005
In the days before radio, television and video games, country folk had to make their own pastimes. During the agricultural revolution of the 18th century – which pre-dated the industrial revolution by a hundred years – young unmarried country ‘lads’ were confined to the individual farms except on the odd ‘feast-days’ or Martinmas when they returned to the village ‘en masse’. With money in their pockets the public houses did well. Not much encouragement was needed for horse-play to commence ! A popular pastime was to pick on some villager who had recently caused concern –usually for ill-treating his wife.
An effigy of the selected villager was hurriedly made of straw and old clothes. A short ladder was ‘borrowed’ (in East Yorkshire dialect a ladder was known as a ‘stang’ – derived from the Scandinavian word for ladder). Mounting the effigy firmly upon the ‘stang’, four hefty lads placed same upon their shoulders (occasionally it was placed upon a handcart or rully) and followed by their mates the motley crowd assembled and in procession proceeded down the village street beating any old saucepan or tin can available. Halting at the chosen person’s home they surrounded his doorway and commenced to chant the following:-
Here we come with a Ran, Dan Dan
It’s neather for ma cause or tha cause
That I ride this stang
But it is for……(name of offender)that Roman nooased man
Come all you good people that live I’ this raw
Ah’d he’ ya tak wahhin fo’ this is our law
If onny o’ you husbands your good wives do bang
Let em cum to uz and we’ll ride em the stang
He beat her, he banged her, he banged her indeed
He banged her afooar sha nivver stood need
He banged her wi neather stick stean na stower
Bud he up with a saddle flap and knocked her backwards ower
Upstairs aback a bed sike a racket there they led
Doon stairs aback O dear he bunched her whahl he mead her swear
Noo if this good man dizzant mend his manners
The skin of his hide sal gan ti the tanners
An if the tanner dizzant tan it well
He sal ride upon a gate spell
An if the spel sud happen to crack
He sal ride upon the devil’s back
An if the devil sud happen to run
We’ll shut him wiv a wahld goose gun
An if the gun should happen ti missfire
Ah’ll bid you good neet, for ah’s ommast tired
God save the Queen
(The words varied but the doggerel ‘tune’ was the same throughout East Yorkshire).
Naturally the person chosen to be the effigy was a closely guarded secret until the night, only known to few conspirators.
This was carried-out for three consecutive nights and by the last night a considerable number of ‘lads’ had gathered.
A collection was taken and this was spent at a public house for beer, consumed by the ‘lads’. Finally the effigy was taken to the village green (at Hunmanby it was Cross Hill) where it was placed upon a bonfire and burned amid much carousing.
Common throughout the agricultural villages of East Yorkshire, this practice was carried out up to 1900. Hunmanby ceased to indulge the Riding of the Stang after 1860 – upon the orders of the Lord of the Manor, Admiral Mitford. During the last ‘riding’ in that year the bonfire got rather out of hand ! The effigy was burned on Cross Hill adjacent to the market cross. Unfortunately the landlord of the White Swan Inn had left half a barrel of pitch unattended. Purloined by some of the ‘lads’, this pitch, together with more firewood was added to the fire. The resulting conflagration was so great that it burned down the village stocks and melted the lead at the top of the market cross, causing the saxon cross which surmounted same to collapse. Because of this, further ‘ridings’ were abolished.
The last three “Ridings of the Stang” in Hunmanby were remembered by the late Mr T.T. (Tinner) Young.
The victims were Billie ‘Ole, a fruit hawker, Old Pug Masty, the butcher (who hit his wife with a rolling-pin) and Henry Duggleby, commonly known as Tip Sadler.