Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


On Boxing Day (26 December)  2018 the 10th Annual International Spronker Competition was held at the Jenny Lind pub in Hastings, East Sussex.  The event is organised as a fund-raiser for the Hastings Borough Bonfire Society, which holds a massive bonfire on the beach in October each year.

Spronkers is a form of conkers in which brussel sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera) are used in place of horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) seeds.  The rules are difficult to understand, but it appears that  the aim is to hit an opponent’s sprout rather than necessarily destroy it.  Although the event was advertised as starting at 2 p.m., play did not actually commence until about 2.20, and continued for rather more than two hours.  The winner was presented with a stem of sprouts, and will have his name added to a wooden plaque on the wall of the Jenny Lind.

Competitors of all ages competed against each other, and all seemed to have raucous supporters who vigorously cheered whenever they scored a hit.  Although advertised as ‘international’, the names of the players seemed to be English ones, and it seemed as if most of them were local people.

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