Monday, 2 August 2010

TEWKESBURY, The battle of

Well it's been a few weeks and they have been a tad busy, work gets in the way you know. Now however as the weeks of the Summer holidays roll on I have some time to catch up. The Re-enactment world is pretty busy at this time of year. It is almost impossible to visit a site of historical interest in the UK these days without there being some costumed wierdo bringing the whole thing to life, and I thoroughly enjoy being one of those wierdos:0)

One of the highlights of the year is the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, in Gloucestershire. It is a free event for the public and the whole town (and surrounding locality I should think) gets involved. The climax of the festival is the re-enactment of the battle fought in 1471, where Edward iv secured his throne and brought England into a short period of peace.

The battle was fought over quite a large area, the reenactment is fought on part of the battlefield named 'Bloody Meadow'. A handful of the Suffolk Free Company were invited to join some friends who form the Household of Sir James Tyrrel a Yorkist knight who was knighted on the field during the battle. We leapt at the opportunity to fight for the King in his Vanguard.

We go for the battle only, unlike other re-enactments where we do the whole Living History thing, Tewkesbury is a great opportunity to go 'light' when I say light we still take a shed load of kit just no trailer and got three adults in the car (Kids stayed with Nanny). The Festival has a great market and a great beer tent.

Friday night was spent in the beer/cider tent and the Suffolks all returned to their encampment a little worse for wear, some more than others, so it was with no right whatsoever that I was able to get up as sparkily as I did on Saturday. First stop Full English, second stop Kasto the Czech armourer. I bought new pauldrons, with attached Spoulders and Heidi a set of legs. Now fully tinned up we were able to enjoy the rest of the day. Which culminated in the battle...

The battle is fought twice (with the result being the same both times, 2 nil to the House of York) Saturday was one of the hottest days of the year. and due to excessive numbers of visitors there was an hour delay marching on. This meant that we stood around in 50lbs of armour for an hour and half before we even started to move towards the battlefield. Blimey it was hot!

Finally, walking onto the battlefield, two things struck me (neither of them were arrows) First the crowd was immense , over 16000 on Saturday, a huge body of people had turned ou on this the hottest day of the year to watch us beat Lancastrians to a pulp. Secondly Tewkesbury is getting towards proper battle numbers, best part of 1000 combatants on each side. For the likes of me the closest (hopefully) I would ever get to a real battle.

The noise is incredible, drums, handguns, cannon. Shouts and screams and the constant clash of steel on steel. FANTASTIC. The banners bobbing above the blocks of billmen, indicating rallying points or where our forces had got to. Our block fought with the King with the Burgundian mercenaries on our right. And although we had not fought together as a unit before we fought like a well oiled machine. The Lancastrians in front of us, were on the whole pretty good but disorganised and they could not stand up to our ability to replace ranks by expanding our frontage to allow one line to have abreather and the next rank take up the fight.

It is amazing how little you know of what is going on on the field, you are concerned with what is immedietaly in front of you and to your left and right. You are made aware of cannon lanes (where you shouldn't stray due to big guns going bang) and the rest you really hope someone else is not wading in but watching and directing. Even in a pretend battle the adrenyline really pumps and it is not really until the battle is over and you have to march off back up the hill to where you are camped do you realised how knackered you are. It took me over an hour to recover from the heat and had it not been for Francis and Lorna getting me out of my armour and up ending several litres of water over me I should think I would have passed out.

The hottest yet, coolest thing I have done in along time.

Tewksbury was an excellent opportunity for Living History. Granted I didn't lose any limbs and none of my friends went down horribly maimed or killed, there was little in the way of screaming and Bloody Meadow only saw a few drops of blood, nevertheless I experienced some of the intensity of a medieval battle, the disorientation, the excitment and exhaustion. The other bits my imagination will have to fill in. I think I have it covered.

Thanks to all who played, the Tyrrels, and 1415 who we fought with see you at Bosworth:0)

There are more pics to come soon.

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