|Tom Hickathrift - A working class hero of long ago getting the better of a wealthy farmer|
It shouldn't be that hard as many of the folk tales we tell at the Undercroft celebrate working class heros who championed the poor. From Robin Hood to Tom Hickathrift, they stood up for the rights of the people and cocked a snoop at the none to noble nobilty. Chap book stories and ballads printed and reprinted from the 16th and 17th century on had to appeal to as wide as possible an audience by presenting heros that the people could relate to. Chivalric stories of Knights and fair Ladies were replaced with tales of clever beggars, wise fools and characters like Joe Millar, a seventeenth century comedienne who would happily mock the pretentions of rich men.
Stories like these would have appealed to men like Robert Costen who was more than happy to speak out against authority. In 1560 he appeared in court in Norwich for that:
At the last Magdelen Fayre [He] did go up and down the fayre with a pair of rams horns* about his neck gathering a great company of lewd people to follow him with clubs and staves and bagpipes, terming himself Mr Mayor and going from booth to booth and getting drunk and shaking his horns saying that they were his ruff (Collar)
* Rams horns were the traditional symbol of the cuckold long ago and so Robert was accusing the Mayor of being a cuckold, whose wife had cheated on him. This is more than just a lewd joke on Costen's part, because in challenging the Mayors ability to control his wife, he was also challenging his ability to rule over the City!
And so if you want to follow in Robert Costen's footsteps and stick two fingers up at the so called great and the good, then come and join us on March 5th. I could even invite David Cameron. Do you think he would come!
As always we meet from 7.30 to start telling at 8.00 lest Jim has your gust for garters.
If he turns up that is!