History Live! – Event Review

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The calm before the storm – getting ready for battle…

The Companye has returned from English Heritage’s flagship event – History Live!

If you the reader have never attended this then we implore you to do so. It is undoubtedly the best multi period event in the UK, and possibly Europe. EH manages to cram over 2000 years of history into one day.

We were there with others from the Medieval Siege Society, who along with the Beaufort Companye (thanks Allan Harley) and invited guests were re-enacting the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury. Those of you who have been watching the BBC’s White Queen will know how pivotal this battle was in ensuring the supremacy of Edward IV. Well, at least they got that right if nothing else…

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Hanging around at muster.

The re-enactment was an authentic recreation of the original battle, the MSS has been assigned the middle battle on the Lancastrian side under Lord Wenlock, and we were facing a large contingent of Stanleys and Howards coming up the hill towards us. We were fighting alongside some fine fellows from the Woodvilles (yes, we know they are not Lancastrian) whom we were acquainted from our event at Old Sarum earlier in the year. Combat was good natured and everyone had a great time, judging from feedback on T’interweb the public at large appreciated out efforts.

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Harrington Companye on the march..

Highlight on the Sunday battle was Sarah attacking her own side during one particularly frantic melee. She has been doing her family history, perhaps she has discovered an American ancestry #blueonblue.

Once Tewkesbury was finished, some of the Companye who are also members of Wryngwyrm (whom we cannot recommend highly enough) took part in the recreation of Hastings 1066. This was a frantic kit change to leap almost 500 years of history and land on your feet ready to go and fight again. Then, for those who had still not had enough the afternoon saw the first ever recreation of Flodden 1513 staged especially for the event in its anniversary year.

Away from the arena displays, of course one of the main draws for this event is the famous Kelmarsh evening beer tent. It is undoubtedly the most surreal experience ever. There are not many places where you can be having a pint with an American Indian one minute, a Gladiator the next, or swapping stories with WW2 American Infantry – arriving suitably late to the party as ever chaps.

Saturday night was Addam of the De Cobham’s stag night. Well, Lobster night really – as he was forcibly placed into a giant red lobster suit and chased around the beer tent by Fisherman forcing him to drink his pint if they caught him in between serenading him with rugby songs. This even made the Battlefields Trust Twitter feed – nice to see it was noticed!

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Fisherman, Fisherman, home from the sea…

English Heritage had booked a band – “The Highwasters”, and they were awesome. They played a mix of late 70s/early 80’s punk & ska and after explaining such music, we popped Jo and Sarah’s mosh pit cherry. Queen of the Mosh Pit ™ however, was the Almighty KOF who could lead the charge anytime!

It was also an opportunity for Ant and Justin to catch up with their old friends in Britannia, and especially nice to see Dan Shadrake. Dan was the founder of Britannia, had there been no Britannia forming in 1990, Ant would probably not have took up re-enactment, would probably not have joined the MSS via Phil Fraser, and ergo would not have formed The Harrington Companye. If you throw a stone in a lake, who know where the ripples may go?

The event was great work by English Heritage, especially after the trauma of the cancellation last year (due to flooding) and all involved deserve huge plaudits. EH faced a lot of unfair criticism – and in our opinion unfounded – following the event last year, and it was great to see them answer their critics.

Roll on Bodiam Castle…

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