The New Hardy Players will re-enact 'The Skimmington Ride' through Dorchester tomorrow, 13th February 2010 in aid of a £58,000 appeal. They will be taking the ride through the town centre between 11.00am and 1.00pm to promote their production of Hardy's Night Chapter and verse to save a rare typescripts being lost to America.
A skimmington, or skimmington ride, is a traditional custom comprising a public demonstration of moral disapproval of an individual or individuals. The form of the demonstration, and the reasons for it, varied between different places, but the general intent was public humiliation of the victims. A skimmington generally took the form of a rowdy parade with effigies of the victims or people dressed up to represent them; in some cases the individuals themselves were forced to participate, often dragged from their homes and forced to ride back to back through the village on a donkey. Skimmingtons were typically noisy affairs, with rough music made by the clattering of pots and pans.
The ride was depicted in Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, when a cart bearing effigies of Michael Henchard and Lucetta Templeman was paraded through the town.
More information about the New Hardy players can be found via there website at www.hardyonline.org