As the winter nights draw in, Sir William called the Companye together for our now traditional banquet. We were joined by invited guests from The Company of Saint Barbara; the Ap Harry’s; The House of Bayard; The Whittinghams; and a guest independent archer in the form of Stan – who has been terrorising us at skirmishes all year!
Our annual banquet is an attempt to stage a reproduction of a 15th Century feast, with period food and drink. Care was taken to select only produce which would have been in season in November in the late 15th Century.
Before the banquet started proper, Lord Harrington explained that we were going to show the assembled throng a newly discovered technique on how men at arms should protect and support their fellow archers. Once the archer (Alec) was carefully protected by a number of large men at arms. It was revealed that this was all fictitious and a cunning ruse de guerre, whereupon Alec was set up by the aforementioned strapping lads and promptly given the bumps for his recent eighteenth birthday.
The banquet then opened proper with a blessing of the food, Non Nobis Domine was recited, and then a rousing secular recital of the Companye creed.
The Menu was as follows:
The Harrington Banquette 2013
A well dressed salad based on a 14th Century recipe
Pottage du Jour
A Potage of vegetables, freshly made and served at the table
Chicken and Leek en Croute
Rich chicken and leek cooked with a mixture of herbs and baked in a pastry jacket
Hind leg of Venison
Hind leg of Venison from the Forests of Northamptonshire roasted and carved at the table.
Spit roasted Pork
Pork from our Lords land, stuffed with apple, onion and herbs, rolled and roasted on the spit then carved at the table.
A selection of root vegetable roasted in fine oils with a selection of herbs.
Good fresh Bread
Good fresh bread from the Households own Master Baker.
A Pottage of Autumn Fruits
New seasons fruit gently cooked in wine and brandy, lightly spiced, with a wine and honey sauce and cream from the dairy
A selection of Cheese from England and France
A hard cheese, a goat cheese and a soft cheese
Entertainment was provided between servings, and again these were appropriate to the fifteenth century.
Firstly Ninjella performed a stunning unaccompanied version of the Agincourt Carol. It takes some nerve to stand up in front of your friends and sing a solo a capella, but it did not affect her singing and wow – another one who has kept her singing ability under wraps.
Next up was a quartet of Phil, Kof, Mark S and Cheri who performed Gaudete. Phil being Phil was concerned that the latin might not be quite right but he was forgiven.
During the meat course, Dale kept the Companye exercising their little grey cells with riddles. Sir William was on typical stunning form (he’s so modest..), but was finally beaten on one at the fourth attempt.
Following this, our guest Adrian the Bayard gave a oration of a rather saucy poem which had everything laughing.
After the venison and pork, we came to matter of the annual awards to the Household.
Apologies were in order to Phil and Kof, who had celebrated their nuptials way back in June, but their wedding present had only just now been delivered by the re-enactment trader we had commissioned. Two fine plates were delivered to them, with everyone’s best wishes.
Thanks were then expressed to Jammy for his stunning work on Sir William’s pavaise – easily the best reproduction of a pavise artwork by any 15th C re-enactment group in the UK. You can see it on display in the group photo at the start of this article. He was awarded a bottle of rather good whisky, which we are confident will be purloined by John the Bulldozer – who has a track record in this regard.
The award of Harrington of the year (a secret ballot of the Companye) was awarded to Mark S, for always being helpful and his cheerful demeanour. He was awarded an Ave Maria plate featuring the heraldic Harrington Knot.
The combat award was presented for the very first time. Honourable mentions were in order for Howard, and Warren, but the award was presented to ‘Ninja’ Pete for his battlefield prowess and his outstanding win in the MSS dagger tournee in April. He looked absolutely stunned with the award!
Finally, Sir William took up his sword and inducted Corin and Mark S to Vintner status in the Order of the Rook. Both may now wear the battle honour of a chess rook gules on a field sable upon their livery coat.
That was supposedly the end of the awards, however the Companye had something special up their sleeve. Catching Sir William completely off guard they then presented him with a replacement sword as a gift to replace the one he had stolen back at Herstmonceux Castle in August. It is rare for Sir William to stop talking and be rendered speechless but yes, it happened.
Next up, Lady Harrington was presented with a gift of a finely embroidered and stamped purse much to her amazement.
Having had the awards and gifts, the mazer was filled with spiced mead and sent around the tables. After the sweet was complete, the Companye unveiled a mummers play which as per last year brought the house down. Dale in particular drew plaudits for his rather questionable Scottish Dragon accent which veered wildly between Alec Salmond and Rab C Nesbit.
Following the play, merriment continued until the night drew to a close.
The banquet – only our second ever – was considered a success. Each year we seem to have more ideas and more entertainment, and we look forward to many more!