Delight as return of historic Staffordshire horn dance draws huge crowds

Pubs ran out of booze after thousands of revellers flocked to watch the return of the historic Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance. Photo: Tony Gaskin
Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance. Photo: Tony Gaskin

The festival dating to medieval times sees a group of deer-men dressed in green and holding antlers embark on a 10-mile dance to music around the village and surrounding farms and pubs.

Organisers say the event was among the most well attended in living memory and that many pub houses ran out of supplies after an estimated 3,000 people descended on the village on Monday.

Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance. Photo: Tony Gaskin

Terry Bailey, of the dance group, said: "The day went very well. Lots of people were coming in throughout the day right from the word go. The numbers were probably the most we've had from start to finish.

"There were big crowds at Blithfield Hall and at Admaston and when we returned to the village centre. Now that the Covid restrictions are relaxing people feel that they want to get out and about.

"Luckily for us the horn dance was one of the vents that people turned out in great number to attend. We've had very good reaction from the pubs, quite a lot of them ran out of stock as a result.

"There must have been about 3,000 people here throughout the day."

The horn dance currently features 12 dancers and a coin collection team for donations which go towards upkeep of the horns and the purchase of costumes.

Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance. Photo: Tony Gaskin

The festival will return on September 12 next year. It dates back to 1226 and as one of this country's oldest surviving rituals is a major tourist draw for Abbots Bromley.

In addition to performances at Blithfield and Admaston the programme included communion at St Nicholas Church followed by the collections of the horns; dances on the village green, in Goose Lane, Yeatsall; Little Dunstal Farm; and Rugeley Turn.

The 1,000-year-old horns are collected from the village church at 8am and returned at the end of the day.

Abbots Bromley, near Uttoxeter, is linked with several legends including the celebrated outlaw Robin Hood, who is thought to have paid a visit, and the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots.

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