Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Evesham Medieval Festival

This is where I was at the weekend, doing Living History with Drudion - one of many re-enactment societies that was there. It was a big show.
One of the societies there was just starting out - I think they were called something like Vanguard of Chivalry? - so a group of them were going round all the other societies to see if they had any soft kit (shirts, tunics, trousers, dresses and so on) for sale. We didn't have anything spare, but we saw them later and they'd managed to find something to fit everyone. They did buy a falchion - an archer's sword - from Drudion, though, and expressed an interest in the bows that our group had for sale.
There were quite a few traders there, too, some from overseas, like the Fairbow archery stall from the Netherlands. I dashed over there before the show had properly opened to the public, and asked if they were open. "If it is light, I am open," the Dutch chap said, and sold me a hand forged hunting arrowhead to add to my collection.
There was a rather good bar there, too, the outdoor events branch of the Fleece at Bretforton, which is one of the most wonderful pubs in England, and is owned by the National Trust. It's the typical American tourist's dream of what an English country pub should be like, with an impressive collection of pewter, and ancient settles, and a fine selection of beers and ciders. The beer for the weekend included Wye Valley and Butty Bach, which I can get any time, so I went for the Hobgoblin. There was also a selection of good ciders, from Thatchers and Hogan's.

The occasion for the show was the 750th anniversary of the death of Simon de Montfort, who is buried in Evesham. After a battle that was more in the nature of a massacre, he was killed and mutilated, and his head cut off and stuck on a pole - Prince Edward, later Edward I, led the Royalist troops for his father Henry III (who basically wandered round the battle field saying "Don't kill me!"), re-asserting Royal control after the Barons had made an attempt at improving democracy by broadening parliamentary representation beyond the Barons, with representatives from each county of England and many important towns.
Drudion were there, as Welsh mercenaries, because Simon made a treaty with Llewelyn ap Gruffudd of Gwynnedd - not far from Hay at Pipton Castle in Glasbury (there's hardly anything left there now - just a small mound by the river). So we were wearing white crosses on our clothing to show we were on Simon's side.
There was a parade through town to mark the start of the show, leading to the laying of a wreath at Simon de Montfort's tomb. I didn't see it myself, but I spoke to a member of the public later who had seen it, and the speech afterwards, with the Lord's Prayer in Latin. She said she had been quite moved by the idea of people still praying for him 750 years after his death, and still remembering what he had been trying to achieve.

Mustering for the parade

Another lady I got talking to (half the fun of events like this is the interesting people you get to talk to) was researching family history and had become fascinated with Painscastle - again, not far from Hay. She wanted to know what had been happening there during the time of Humphrey de Bohun, and confessed that she'd like to do re-enactment herself, but she thought she was too old. I told her there was no upper age limit, and if all she could do was sit on a chest and talk about history (and she knew her stuff), she would be welcome to join a society. I told her about the Living History Forum, where British re-enactors of all periods meet online to talk about history and to recruit new members.

Sadly, I couldn't stay for the whole show, so I had to pack up my spinning and weaving display and trundle my wheelie suitcase up through town, still in full kit apart from my head dress, to the railway station to get home. I'm pleased to say that the buses and trains all came when they were supposed to, and I got home safely.

Next month, I'll be at Hay Castle for the Agincourt celebrations.

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