THE people of Combe Martin and surrounding parishes are preparing to don costume and take to the streets this bank holiday weekend as The Hunting of the Earl of Rone returns. With origins lost in the mists of time, this unique event begins on Friday and s

THE people of Combe Martin and surrounding parishes are preparing to don costume and take to the streets this bank holiday weekend as The Hunting of the Earl of Rone returns.With origins lost in the mists of time, this unique event begins on Friday and sees four days of colourful processions featuring the traditional Hobby Horse, Fool and Grenadiers as they hunt for the elusive masked "Earl."Once banned in 1837, it was revived in 1974 and proves a colourful and fascinating spectacle, culminating on Bank Holiday Monday as hundreds join the final parade.Local legend has the fugitive as the Earl of Tyrone from Ireland, but while there is little historical evidence, it all combines with a variety of mythical elements and traditions to create a distinctive celebration. Friday will see the Grenadiers, drummers, Fool and Hobby Horse leave the very top of the village at 7.15pm as they begin their search, making their way as far as the Pack O' Cards pub before returning to the Castle Inn, where the "Stable" of the Hobby Horse is now to be found.On Saturday it's the turn of children from Combe Martin Primary School, who set off from the school for their own parade at 11am. On Saturday the Castle will host the annual Earl of Rone social evening from 8pm, with all welcome.On Sunday the hunters resume, leaving Sandaway Holiday Park near the seaside around 1.30pm and making their way up the street via the back roads and byways.Finally on Monday the grand parade, with all the characters plus hundreds of participants and the now captured Earl back-to-front on a donkey, make their way to the seafront.The procession leaves Holdstone Way at the top of the village at around 6.15pm, parading their prisoner down the mile-long street. He is frequently "shot" and falls from his donkey, only to be revived, until reaching the seaside, where amidst frenzied drumming he is cast into the sea!Some traffic control will be in effect while the parades are underway and those wishing to come and see the spectacle are advised to arrive in plenty of time. More details can be found at www.earl-of-rone.orguk