The Companye has returned on campaign from Old Sarum castle in Wiltshire.
It was a bank holiday weekend event for English Heritage, at one of their premium locations in the South of England. We were pleased to welcome Alan, Howard and Warren for their first event with the Companye – plus Alex the archer has now been fully accepted into the throng.
As usual, the Companye had a fantastic time. Given the last castle we laid siege to featured -5 degrees temperature and flurries of snow, the sunburn was (almost) welcome!
It was an action packed event, and feedback from the public, English Heritage, and the MSS membership has been fantastic. All aspects of the event were interlinked into one overarching story for the public to immerse themselves in and step back in time.
The event was set during a period of the Wars of the Roses known as the Readaption of Henry VI. The day opened with Lancastrians besieging Old Sarum Castle, was which home to some Yorkist loyalists who were holed up there. Given the strength of the castle defences, the Lancastrians were content to starve the Yorkist forces into submission.
Following a display of English archers practising at the butts, to relieve the boredom of the siege a tournament of foot was proposed between the attackers and besiegers. Whilst this sounds far fetched, there were actual recorded instances of this type of thing where a siege was prolonged.
Sir William Harrington entered into the Tournament of Foot, which took place in a wooden arena inside the Castle Keep. The Tournament was progressing apace, when a messenger arrived and brought news that Edward IV had returned to England! Henry VI was marshalling his forces and the attackers were ordered to bring and end to the siege as quick as possible.
Following this, the children from the audience were issued with the famous medieval Bill weapon, and taught how to be soldiers in readiness for the upcomng battle.
The battle opened with the mighty Medieval Siege Society Trebuchet – crewed by Harringtons Corin & Dale -hurling projectiles against the castle. The Lancastrians assualt on the castle was met by fierce handgun fire from Yorkist handgunners.
The Yorkists sallied forth from the castle in an attempt to stop the fearful trebuchet and battle was joined. Lancastrians separately sent assault parties up the ramparts to silence the handgunners and archers, but to no avail.
Eventually, after fierce fighting the Yorkists won the day – to thunderous applause from a record audience for the site.
After hours, the usual Harrington apres-punchup commenced! We were all grateful to KOF and Phil for bringing doughnuts – and featuring a rather stylish one…
We also put on a great living history encampment in the sunshine. As it was a blue riband English Heritage event, high standards of authenticity were in evidence, and we were more than happy to play our part. No nylon knights, Lycra leggings and trippy fantasy ‘Wang’ in our camp thank you! Though mysterious forces appeared to have been playing with Sir William’s harness….
All in all a fantastic event, probably one of the best ones for some years, woe to those that missed it. It was great to be sieging a real castle, and actually making it the star by involving it fully. English Heritage are already talking about a return, and if so the Companye will march to assault the walls of Old Sarum once more!!!
Next up, Dunstable Priory.
Ps. Special mention to those that stayed on Sunday to do the pack down, and especially Loki, who was mad enough to drive from Essex on the Saturday just to help set up! Now that’s dedication for you…