• sheep at Hoe Grange Farm
    hoe grange blog posts

Browse through our blog posts to find out what life is like at Hoe Grange Holidays along with some great ideas for days out in the Peak District.

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football

February 16, 2021
February 16, 2021 - Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football
-Older

On Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, the shops and houses in the town of Ashbourne are boarded up. Strangers wonder what is going on? It is the annual Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football played through the streets by hundreds of people. Also known as the Glorious Game the event is usually the highlight of the year for many locals, but sadly this year due to Covid-19 it has sensibly been cancelled.

Shrovetide football

Has Shrovetide been cancelled before?

Shrovetide football in Ashbourne was first recorded as long ago as 1682, and hasn’t changed much over the centuries, except that it is now watched by hoards of people from all over the UK, not just the locals!

Amazingly the event has only been cancelled twice, both times due to a nationwide Foot And Mouth Disease outbreak. First in 1968, when they played a mini version of the game on the park and again in 2001 when the game was cancelled altogether. In 2001 players still met at the plinth to sing the Shrovetide song and pay tribute to this great game.

Remarkably the game continued through both World Wars as requested by local men fighting at the front line. Many said it was partly what they were fighting for, to keep the great English traditions such as Shrovetide alive!

Ashbourne Shrovetide Football

It is a frantic football game played through the streets of the town with hundreds of people and few rules, dating back to Medieval times and beyond. There is no pitch, few rules and the goals are 3 miles apart! The painted leather ball can be carried, kicked or thrown, but not transported by car! However the ball is mostly carried along in a giant "hug" by a core of players. Players not only have to be fit, but very hardy as play often takes place in the freezing river. A goal is scored by banging thrice upon the millstones at the stone goals at Sturston Mill and Clifton, on the outskirts of the town.

The Shrovetide Ball

The ball is a hard handmade leather ball, slightly larger than a football and stuffed with cork chippings, so it floats in the river! It is beautifully hand painted to a design chosen by the local person picked to turn up the ball at the start of the match. Very quickly the paint peels off in play. Whoever goals the ball becomes the proud owner of the ball and usually gets it repainted so it can be displayed in full glory.

How does the game start?

As 2 o’clock draws near the town springs to life and crowds start gathering on Shaw Croft car park in anticipation of the start of the game. It is regarded as a great honour to be chosen to throw up the ball to set the game in motion. The honoured guest is carried shoulder high from the town centre to the “plinth” carrying the painted leather ball above their head for all to see. Famous "turner ups" include Prince Charles, The Duke of Devonshire and Brian Clough. The noise and tension rise as the crowd sings Auld Langs Syne followed by God Save The Queen, before the ball is thrown sky high into the jostling sea of people.

Down'ardsFrom there on it is a scramble as the die-hard players form a “hug” round the ball trying to gain control for their team – either Up’ards born North of the River Henmore, or Down’ards born to the South.

It’s like a huge rugby scrum with tens of players on each side, and many more onlookers, shouting encouragement. There is a lot of jostling, shoving and pushing and you rarely see the ball - often the only way to work out where it is from the steam rising from the hug!

shrovetide3

Due to the sheer number of players the ball often gets stuck in one place for a long time, before suddenly and very briefly emerging into the air above the crowd, where it can move very quickly indeed – you need to be on your toes not to get caught up in the action by mistake!

How is the ball goaled?
To score a gaol the player has to hit the ball against their millstone goal three times. The scorer is usually a local, die-hard player elected en route to the goal. It is a huge honour to ‘goal’ the ball and the scorer often becomes a local celebrity. If the ball is goaled before 5pm a second new ball is turned up and play continues in the dark until 10pm. If the goal is scored after 5pm the games ends for the day.

Ashbourne Shrovetide Football has a fabulous friendly atmosphere, with all ages enjoying the spectacle. It is highlight of the year for many and the community comes together to celebrate this extraordinary event. As locals we love it, as it is a chance to catch up with many friends as you follow the play across town!

This year is as they say "unprecedented" and it will be greatly missed, but hopefully Shrovetide Football will return in 2022 for many more years to come!

Felicity

The 'Shrovetide Song'
The Shrovetide Anthem is a song that was written in 1891 for a concert that raised funds to pay fines for playing the game in the street.

It's now sung each day at the pre-game lunch before players and spectators parade through town to Shaw Croft car park to turn up the ball and start the game.

There's a town still plays this glorious game
Tho' tis but a little spot.
And year by year the contest's fought
From the field that's called Shaw Croft.
Then friend meets friend in friendly strife
The leather for to gain,
'And they play the game right manfully,
In snow, sunshine or rain.

'Tis a glorious game, deny it who can
That tries the pluck of an Englishman.

For loyal the Game shall ever be
No matter when or where,
And treat that Game as ought but the free,
Is more than the boldest dare.
Though the up's and down's of its chequered life
May the ball still ever roll,
Until by fair and gallant strife
We've reached the treasur'd goal.

'Tis a glorious game, deny it who can
That tries the pluck of an Englishman

in the press

our farm

our environment

View our accommodation...

Contact us or book direct online to avoid disappointment

Hoe Grange Holidays Tripadvisor Comments...

  •   lovely surroundings real farm country with chickens paying you a visit nice decking area to chill at the end of the day accommodation very good plenty to do nearby... read more

    vincent s
    7/28/2019

      We stayed in Skylark, one of the two glamping pods available at Hoe Grange in February 2020.

    Felicity & David welcomed us when we arrived to show us around... read more

    HelenLCarter
    2/06/2020

      We stayed in Rainster cabin for a long weekend 6 th to 9 th September. This was my 5 th visit to the amazing Hoe Grange. I had visited before... read more

    Jan Horsman J
    9/17/2019
  •   Second visit to the accessible holiday cabins at Hoe Grange. David and Felicity were as helpful and friendly as ever. We had a welcome pack of freshly baked bread, butter,... read more

    Charlotte M
    8/07/2019

      What a wonderful find. As our first experience of needing accessible accommodation we could not have wished for better. Beautiful well equipped lodges in lovely surroundings. We stayed in both... read more

    L9943KBlesleym
    4/03/2020

      Stayed last week, from 6th to 13th September in the log cabin called Hipley. This was amazing, it was our first visit but certainly not our last. Gold standard disability... read more

    548julie
    9/14/2019
  •   Lovely place to holiday near to interesting locations and easy access to the High Peak trail and Carsington Water. Part of a working farm with fresh produce to enjoy during... read more

    Angie B
    8/03/2019

      Another great holiday at Hoe Grange - such a great place for us all to holiday as a family - this time with a baby, a 3 yr old, a... read more

    Thesamps
    10/04/2019

      We spent four nights at Hoe Grange and had a lovely time. The location is fantastic and right next to the High Peak Trail. The cabin was very clean and... read more

    Big_Al_0000
    7/16/2019
  •   We stayed in Pinder cabin and had a lovely stay, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, nice and warm after cold days out. The children loved meeting the animals and... read more

    Tiggywinkle15
    11/05/2019

      We stayed in the Skylark pod last October (2018) and had a lovely time. There was homemade, rustic goods (bread, biscuits etc) when we arrived. Felicity and David who run... read more

    KBarry
    9/15/2019

      Felicity and David made us feel very welcome right from our booking. The pods are well equipped and spotlessly clean. The area is very peaceful with great views and we... read more

    Adventurer_12121
    1/30/2020
  •   What a lovely weekend away! We stayed in the lovely gypsy caravan, which was a wonderful and really unique experience. We took along our two horses, who also had a... read more

    rachelthomas2015
    6/18/2019

      Recently spent a week in "Pinder" and had a lovely time. The location is stunning - the site is nestled in a beautiful valley on the edge of the Peaks... read more

    Peachey167
    7/16/2019

      For the second year running, we have had a great family holiday at Hoe Grange. We had one cabin for the week, for two sisters and our elderly wheelchair-using... read more

    EJYork2013
    6/25/2019
  •   It's been three years since we last visited but once we arrived it certainly didn't feel like it!
    We stayed in Hipley again which had had a refurbished wet... read more

    ElizabethA717
    9/21/2019

      We stayed for a night in one of the cabins . The cabin was spotless and very well equipped , lots of extra touches were added like fresh eggs and... read more

    Ajtravels14
    2/03/2020

      We had a lovely time staying in one of the incredibly well equipped pods. I bought my pony along and we had some great rides on the high peak trail.... read more

    plopster1
    6/07/2019
  •   On arriving at Hoe Grange in a downpour, we doubted if we’d made the right decision to go glamping, but after the warm welcome from David and a quick tour,... read more

    karenmD4738KD
    6/25/2019

      Myself and my sister travelled to Costa Rica and Panama via Viva Holidays Ltd. The holiday was exceptional and one to be treasured forever. Andrew at Viva Holidays... read more

    Paula C
    7/04/2019

      We've just returned from our second visit to Hoe Grange. The suggested riding routes with stunning scenery were enjoyed by my daughter and I while the menfolk were delighted with... read more

    Jdrichie12
    7/11/2019
  •   Loved every minute of our stay, and so did the family and friends that came to stay. Excellent facilities in our cosy Hipley log cabin. By far the best... read more

    krimpenijssel
    10/25/2019

      We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    dghiggs61
    10/25/2019

      What can I say?
    Absolutely superb!
    We have just returned from a family weekend staying in Daisybank cabin and the Skylark pod.
    It was our first trip away with my... read more

    Wheelieuser
    6/13/2019
  •   A beautiful place to stay! Amazingly run family business! Everyone were very welcoming, friendly and cozy! The skylark pod we stayed in was very clean, cozy and well equipped! The... read more

    sophiee249
    1/02/2020

      We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    David H
    10/25/2019

      We have just returned from a short stay in one of the pods on site at Hoe Grange Holidays. We couldn’t recommend them enough. The pod has everything you could... read more

    Catboy86
    8/17/2019
  •   We wanted a complete break and some peace and quiet and this was perfect. The caravan was secluded with beautiful views over the countryside. Everything was spotlessly clean and well... read more

    joanne B
    6/04/2019

      Arrived and was shown to our pod, fantastic location and the pod was very good indeed plus we had home made bread and milk and tea and coffee. A... read more

    mickvfr
    7/28/2019

Join our mailing list