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Work / Photography

Conor Beary captures the bizarre tradition of “bottle kicking” from this Easter weekend

Conor Beary has made it his mission to capture the odd traditions the British Isles has become fondly known for. Back in 2014 it was Ottery St Mary’s flaming tar barrels and last year he delved into the strange activity of Swan Upping, the ceremony of checking and counting the Queen’s swans along the Thames. 

While Easter weekend is now behind us in a flurry of wind, rain and chocolate eggs, Conor Beary takes us back with his series shot on Easter Monday called Hallaton Bottle Kicking. An old Leicestershire custom, bottle kicking has taken place in the village of Hallaton every Easter for over 200 years. 

The day starts with a parade through the village where locals carry a large hare pie and three bottles, which are actually small kegs filled with beer. Separated into teams, the main event sees residents fight to move the bottles across two streams one mile apart, over ditches, hedges and barbed wire. There are no rules but eye-gouging, strangling and use of weapons are strongly frowned upon. 

The competition is brutal and Conor captures the chaos and scrum-like vigour of the locals wonderfully in black and white. Despite the lack of colour, the giddy victories and crushing defeats of Conor’s animated subjects still comes through.

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking

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Conor Beary: Hallaton Bottle Kicking