Gallery: Great Finborough ‘Bog men’ battle for traditional title

The Great Finborough bog race in full flow.

The Great Finborough bog race in full flow. - Credit: Archant

NEIGHBOURING villagers became rivals for a day when they battled it out in a race across the Suffolk countryside that dates back more than 100 years.

In an Easter Monday tradition, which began in 1897, two teams of six from the villages of Great Finborough and Haughley, near Stowmarket, vied to be the first to finish a mile-long course across muddy fields.

The ‘Race of the Bog Men’ is run from a farm at Boyton Hall to the Chestnut Horse pub on the green in Great Finborough.

To win, a team captain has to be the first to cross the threshold of the pub carrying a scroll symbolising an employment contract that was the subject of a dispute between two groups of agricultural workers in the late 19th Century.

According to the legend, a group of men faced with being sacked from their jobs at nearby Boyton Hall for drunkenness had to fight it out for the contract with a rival group of workers from nearby Haughley. The farmer from Boyton Hall is believed to have thrown the contract in the air and let the two teams compete to see who could get it across the fields to the pub first.

This Easter, it was the team from Great Finborough who triumphed for the second year in a row.

According to the landlady of the Chestnut Horse, Angela Crocker, the fine weather encouraged one of the best-ever turnouts for the event, which also featured egg-and-spoon races, a tug of war and an egg throwing competition.

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She said: “It really has been a great day and although both teams were desperate to win, they have all shaken hands now it’s over for another year. It’s a bit of fun and it’s really good for the villages.

“We have been absolutely packed out, which is wonderful, because we have also been running a mini-beer festival with all the proceeds to be split between the local church and Finborough Primary School.”

Other fundraising attractions for the local good causes included a cake stall, a 50/50 raffle, face painting, crafts and candy floss.

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