Pennies from heaven: Golden Hand brings Devon townsfolk news of the season's first fruit

Joseph Lake (above, right), the town crier of Honiton, Devon, carrying the Golden Hand through the streets to the start of the Hot Pennies ceremony, in which heated coins are thrown from upper windows of the town's inns (above left) in a tradition dating back to the 13th century.

Originally, visiting noblemen would throw hot chestnuts to the beggars below for amusement as they watched them burn their fingers. They then moved on to coins for greater effect.

The ceremony marks the start of the Honiton market fair, while the Golden Hand signifies the "hand of plenty" and represents the first fruits of the season

Photograph: Norman Lomax