The Deal Hoodeners is a group of talented musicians who are passionate about keeping traditional music alive. There are currently 12 regular band members playing a variety of traditional instruments including melodeons, concertinas, mandolins, bodhráns and fiddles. Additonally, on special occasions in the Christmas period we are joined by Jack and Bill our dancing dolls, the delightful Daisy and, of course, our famous hoodened horse.
The Hoodeners are all volunteers which means that the money raised from busking and fees is donated to local charities. Over the past 20 years this has resulted in the Hoodeners donating about £30,000 to good causes in and around Deal.
Hoodening is a traditional East Kent activity with the earliest recording of Hoodening in Deal being around 1850, though history is a bit sketchy about this. The current band is based on Percy Maylem’s recordings of Hoodening in Deal in 1905. Then he wrote about three breakaway members of the Skardon Band and their musical exploits around the Deal area. The Skardon Band were heavily involved in Hoodening at the end of the 19th Century through to the 1930s and a collection of instruments played by the 1905 Hoodeners can be found at the Deal Maritime Museum, along with two original Walmer Hooden Horses, for which the Deal Hoodeners pay a small stabling fee for their keep.
The reformation of the Deal Hoodeners began in 1997 when Gillian Nixon and her husband Chris called a few interested people together to explore the music and activities of the old groups. Thanks to invaluable information provided by Jim Skardon, the grandson of Skardon Band member Robert Skardon, it was possible to recreate the Deal Hoodeners in an accurate image of the original 1905 band. Gill and Chris moved away shortly after forming the group however the original spirit of the Hoodeners remains strong thanks to the guiding hand of our Captain, Steve Grayland, and some very longstanding members. We are also supported by Peter Riggs, who for many years has ensured our accounts are shipshape and very proper.
Membership of the Deal Hoodeners remains by way of invitation although we can’t recall turning anybody away and we encourage everyone to join in when we are playing and singing. If you want a taste of what we sound like we can be found most Monday nights between 8 pm – 10 pm practising at The Prince Albert (thanks to the boys for putting up with us when we are trying out a new tune) in Middle Street, Deal.