The Everyday Lore Project

7 September 2020 – Abbots Bromley Horn dance

7 September 2020 – Abbots Bromley Horn dance

I may have eaten more than a small quantity of grease proof paper today. As it’s the Monday after the first Sunday after Old St Bartholomew’s Day (4 September), it’s the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. And the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is kind of what it says on the tin, except Abbots Bromley is a place not a euphemism. And there is dancing, with horns. It’s been going since c13th, without stopping, so there’s a lot written about it. Which you can read elsewhere (or watch the YouTube video at the end). 

Because I made brandy snaps, which according to several sources, is a traditional food to eat at the dance. Brandy snaps are ridiculously easy to make if you know what you’re doing. I didn’t, so ended up eating a lot of grease proof paper. It’s equal parts fat, sugar, syrup, and flour. The fat and sugars are melted down, the flour is added along with dried ginger, lemon juice and brandy, then baked, then cooled, then curled. 

The first batch into the oven was very runny. And then there was the aforementioned GPP. It didn’t work. 

The second batch by this time was a little more solidified. And did work, mainly due to some foil slathered in marg. 

But even then, I didn’t really manage the curling part. But they tasted good, if you like your brandy snaps without the taste of either brandy or ginger and mostly lacking in snap. I didn’t complain. Although my gums now feel like they are voluntarily surrendering my teeth. 

And as for last night, I tried. I really tried. But when I got into bed the funky hop smell was back. Despite this I managed to fall asleep. Only to wake up again. The smell was getting riper. But I still fell back to sleep. Only to wake up again. And by this time the yeasty cheese stink had clambered into both nostrils. So I dug around in my pillowcase, only to find the bag had somehow fallen under the bed. Stumbling into the spare room, I shoved the hops pillow into a drawer and then crawled back under the duvet. I was rewarded by Steve Buscemi doing a little dance to cheer me up. This dream almost, but not quite, compensated for the crappy night’s sleep. He did dance with a very lovely smile though. But no antlers, pigs’ bladders, or bells, from what I can remember.


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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