Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Battle? At Kentwell? No?

Well in a few days the three week, four weekend event that is the Grand Recreation Of Tudor Life at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk will be over for another year. (1556 to be precise). These days I only manage to play at Kentwell on the weekends, and in my usual way I don't seem to be able to take the easy way.

This year on the third weekend of the event we had a Tudor pageant to celebrate the betrothal of some posh person to another. That bit really was an excuse for us military types to do our thing. Which in this case was to get shot at close range by a whole bunch of longbow men & women.

It was a Tudor interpretation of the Battle of Agincourt. NOT a battle reenactment! Well not one that other battle  reenactors would recognise. It is a play within a play. 21st century Lving Historians, playing 16th century folk, playing 15th century soldiers. And as it's Kentwell it all happens in a slightly different way to pretty much anywhere else I think. This year I was the Constable of France and Yes I did have an outrageous accent.

The battle started with the charge of the French cavalry, which is driven off by concentrated arrow volleys. Or 9 & 10 year old kids on hobby horses with wooden swords attacking the English lines whilst receiving handfuls of willow wands that are 'loosed' skywards. Total mayhem. The best bit is when their commander has to stride up the battlefield to sound the recall. More tricky than herding cats.

Then the grown ups get to play. This mostly consists of myself, my wife (Heidi/Bess) plus, Ant, Lord Francis and El Hoggo all in full harness taking repeated volleys of blunt arrows from some jolly good archers. You see quite a few arrows miss you. The ones that don't you rarely see, especially the ones that hit your helmet.

Arrows are then collected and hand to hand combat ensues. It is hard work making only a few fellows look many but somehow we manage. We did this a number of times. Eventually the English Men At Arms slay the French.

My death was great fun as I was killed by Sir Thomas Erpingham who was mounted on 'Berry' a large and feisty Suffolk Punch who is a novice at this combat thing. Even in the middle of all this silliness I manage to get a 'real' Living History experience. Cavalry must have been bloody terrifying! I felt safe the entire time fighting Will who played Erpingham, an excellent rider who exudes confidence, but even so the rational bit of your brain is doing the maths, which adds up to a very squashed me. So thanks must go to Will and Berry for not squishing me and I look forward to doing it again.

Next weekend is the last weekend at KW for a while, I will be practising my musket drill. The rest of the summer beckons. Five Knights' Tourneys, Armada Soldiers at the Festival Of History, Pirating in YAARmouth and the battle of Bosworth to come. Hopefully I will get time to write. Hell I would even like to play the odd game too, who knows?

See you in the fifteenth or sixteenth century:0)