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Honiton's hot pennies - how the tradition started

The 'Big Glove' arrives. Photo: ITV News/Jacquie Bird

The hot penny ceremony dates back to the 13th century, when Honiton was granted a Royal Charter to hold a market.

The celebrations marking the anniversary of the charter begin at 12pm from the Old Pannier Market, with The Town Cryer lifting up a garlanded pole with a gloved hand on top.

The Big Glove. Credit: ITV News/Jacquie Bird
No one could be arrested when the Big Glove was held up. Credit: ITV News/Jacquie Bird

He then proclaims that 'no man may be arrested so long as this glove is up.' This ensured that no one, especially debtors, would be discouraged from coming to Honiton for the ceremony and subsequent fair.

People race to collect the hot pennies. Credit: ITV News/Jacquie Bird

The first pennies are thrown from the balcony of the old Assembly Rooms above The Old Pannier Market and then a procession follows the garlanded pole to a number of pubs from which “hot pennies” are thrown to the crowds.

The pennies were originally a minor part of the proceedings, and supposedly thrown for the amusement of wealthy people, who enjoyed watching the peasants burn their fingers on them. Nowadays the pennies are only warm.

Children hold pennies in their hats. Credit: ITV News/Jacquie Bird

Watch Jacquie Bird's full report on the Hot Pennies ceremony here: