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Bottle Kicking

Properly known as: Hare Pie Scrambling and Bottle Kicking

John Burrows (Medbourne) has the bottle.

One of Britain's oldest customs is enacted every Easter Monday in Hallaton. Medbourne plays its part by providing protagonists in the "contest". For this one day in the year the friendly relationship between the two villages is put aside, to be replaced by an age-old hostility and rivalry.

The ingredients of this ancient custom are hare pie, penny loaves, beer in barrels (these are the bottles), pageantry, music and a church service. To this are added pride, passion, virility and tradition. The day culminates in a fierce battle between Hallaton's and Medbourne's finest to wrestle the casks of ale back to their own village.

Nobody really knows the complete derivation of today's customs. See: Bottle Kicking - History or Legends?

Not surprisingly, the custom attracts a large influx of visitors including, in the past, celebrities like Frank Bruno and Robbie Coltrane. As a major attraction, the event raises funds which are distributed to good causes in Hallaton and Medbourne by the Bottle Kicking Committee.

The Order of Events


Band parades through Medbourne


Children's parade led by the band from the Bewicke Arms to St. Michael's church, Hallaton.


Bottle Kicking Service in St. Michael's church.

From 12:00

Refreshments available in Stenning Hall


Band plays at the Village Green (weather permitting)


Parade of the Bottles and Hare Pie from the Fox Inn to the church gates.


Cutting up and distributing of the Hare Pie at the church gates.


Dressing of the Bottles at the Village Green and distribution of the Penny Loaves.


Bottle kicking march from the Fox Inn to Hare Pie Bank.


The Hare Pie scramble and the start of the bottle kicking contest at Hare Pie Bank.


The victors of the "best of three" contest celebrate their victory at the Buttercross.

The Rules - there are none!

The locals know the objectives of the game. For visitors, the following summary may help them to understand what goes on:

  • The contestants aim to take the bottle from Hare Pie Bank to get it across a boundary stream for their own village.
  • In Hallaton's case the home boundary is a brook running just south of the village.
  • Medbourne's brook is much further to the south and is a stream running from Slawston to Medbourne.
  • By convention the bottle may be carried, rolled, kicked or thrown. In practice, wrestling, carrying and pushing are deployed.
The melee. Copyright © James Barr, 2004.


  • No forms of transport or weapons are allowed!
  • Contestants must wear suitable clothing - hard hats, crash helmets and studded boots are barred!
  • There is no limit on the number of participants; spectators who get too close may find themselves involved!
  • The contest is best of three bottles. For reasons of tradition, the second bottle is a dummy and is much lighter than the real ones containing ale. Thus, there is scope for "tactics", like holding back the fast runners until bottle two.
  • There is no referee and no time limit.

Not surprisingly, there are casualties, so first-aid staff are on standby throughout the event.

Exhaustion or casualty? Copyright © James Barr, 2004.


Medbourne's part

Medbourne's 1952 team celebrate victory at the

Written records reveal no mention of Medbourne's involvement until 1890, by which time their involvement was well established. What had been a Hallaton affair in the 1790's developed into the two village contest by the 1850's.

The geography of the course favours Hallaton. Besides having further to go, Medbourne have to traverse two hedges lining the Slawston bridleway. Hence, impartial onlookers are encouraged to shout for Medbourne.

Medbourne enjoyed a run of succes in the mid 1900's.


Thanks are due to John Burrows for the loan of materials enabling this page to be constructed. John is Medbourne's representative on the Bottle Kicking Committee.
October 2011.