1982     GIANT and HOB-NOB     2017

 

Both the Salisbury Giant and Hob Nob are pageant figures of the Salisbury guild of Merchant Tailors, who received their charter in 1447.                                     The Giant is first recorded in 1496 when led by the Mayor and Corporation, they went in procession to meet King Henry VII and his Queen, who were staying at nearby Clarendon Palace. The Salisbury Giant and Hob-Nob are unique survivors, as such figures were condemned as idolatrous at the time of the Reformation, and others were destroyed.  Over the centuries the Giant's appearance has been altered numerous times with refurbishment of his garments and hat.

The Giant became an important figure in all celebrations, particularly St John the Baptist day, 24th June, Midsummer Day. St John being the patron saint of tailors.St Osmund Day 16th July, St Osmond being the patron of Salisbury, and whose body lies  entombed in the cathedral. Also St Peters Day 1st August.

(left) 'Christopher' The Giant and Hob-nob as seen in Salisbury Museum today and (right) the cover of 1953 June/July edition of the English Dance and Song journal.

On the outings the Giant, was accompanied by Hob-Nob, a beadle and two whifflers bearing mace, sword, and lantern, the Morris dancers, three black boys and the devil. All were dressed in clothes provided by the Taylors Guild. All would process through the City streets accompanied by great crowds. While the bearers of the giant refreshed themselves in a local hostelry, the Morris dancers became the centre of attraction, dancing to traditional tunes, three dressed as men in streamers and bells, and three as women, and one as a fool.All the way two flute players provided the dance tunes, which were half drowned out out by the heavy thud of a bass drum representing the Giant footsteps.All the while Hob-Nob with his fearful black appearance, rushed about, his snapping jaws lined with hob-nail teeth, biting chasing apprentices and young girls alike into the water channels which lined Salisbury streets.            

 

From 1746 onwards all the Giant's outings were on days of national rejoicing.

By Proclamation to celebrate the final defeat of the 1745 rebellion at Culloden, a procession took place from the Market Square to the Cathedral. The Giant was a massive 25 feet tall. He paraded with Hob-Nob and both were encircled by Morris dancers.

In 1784 the country celebrates peace after the American war of Independence and the Giant becomes known as 'St Christopher' for the first time. The Giants attendants, Hob-Nob and the Morris dancers were again parading.

In 1869 Christopher the giant and Hob-Nob were placed in the care of Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and were purchased for the museum in 1873 for 1.10s.0d (1.50p) Today both original figures are retired and on permanent display in the Museum.

(above right) The Giant with Whifflers and Beadle

In recent times a contemporary Christopher the Giant and Hob-Nob together with Morris dancers have taken part in celebrations of St George Day. In 1988 Salisbury Civic Society and the City Charter Trustees revived a an annual service of commemoration and rededication followed by a procession to the Market Square for Riding the Jorge ceremony. A re-enactment of a middle age pageant, when St George valiantly fought and killed the dragon. For several years Salisbury has celebrated St Georges Day and Christopher has made an appearance much to the delight of the crowds. Sarum Morris have their own replica Hob-Nob who often accompanies Sarum Morris when they dance at special events

(left) The contemporary Giant walks Salisbury on St Georges day.

Left: The Giant and Sarum Morris dance at Downton Cuckoo

Right:  FairHob-nob in Avebury 2006

              

For further information about Salisbury Giant see the Salisbury Museum publication 'The Giant and Hob-nob' by Hugh Shortt

                                                           

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