The Companye returned to Delapre Abbey as part of the commemoration’s of the 1460 battle of Northampton.
The Friends of Delapre Abbey have been doing an excellent job of involving the community with the site and making them aware of this wonderful local resource on their door step, and it was nice to see such an engaged and welcoming crowd of the public. It became apparent during discussions though that people had come from far and wide to attend the event, the 1460 battle is attracting more interest at the national level.
The Companye were joined by our great local friends from the House of Bayard, and the Windrush Free Company. The newly formed Northampton Battlefields Society were also in attendance, and had some wargames of the battle set up in the abbey.
We set up the tented encampment in the parkland, on the site of the cavalry engagement from the 1460 battle.
We started the day with a demonstration of mediaeval archery and crossbows, showcasing the skill of the medieval archer to the assembled throng. Our archers and arbalests took part in a test of accuracy, and of speed. Congratulations to Linda of the Bayards for winning the skill shoot with a thumping shot into the head of the target.
After a pause for an authentic lunch we moved to the main spectacular of the day – the recreation of a Tournament from around the year 1460 (the year of the Northampton Battle) and featuring local families who would have attended such tournament in the area. As ever with the Harringtons, the research had been done, and we used as our inspiration Rene of Anjou’s Book of the Tournament, and also The Beauchamp Pageant.
Six teams were entered into the Tournament. Each was lead by a Knight or Esquire, representing one of the local gentry. They were assisted by two valets (Combatant) and a banner bearer (non-combatant) who’s task it was to indicate when the Knight/Esquire had been bested.
Sir William Harrington of Wolfage Manor
Lord Grey of Ruthin
Banner/Livery: Red and Black. Black Ragged Staff, Griffin emblem.
Sir Mortimer of Grendon
Banner/Livery:Ermine, on a fess Azure three crosses sarcelly Or
Sir Woodhall of Odell
Banner/Livery: Or, three crescents Gules
Richard de Vere of Addington
Banner/livery: Quarterly gules and or with a molet argent in the quarter.
Master Bayliss Esquire.
Livery: a bend Gules
Our commentator (her first time out but you would never have believed it) was on hand to explain the spectacle to the assembled crowd.
One by One each team entered the arena, and presented themselves to the Noble Gallery. The Tournament was played aplaisance in the presence of Lady Elizabeth Harrington of Wolfage Manor (Brixworth) – who could also award points for Chivalry or outstanding feats of martial prowess.
Next, our Marshall was introduced. He proceeded to explain the rules to the audience, and the participants – before eliciting an Oath from the participants to uphold the spirit of the Tournee.
Pleasantries suitably complete, it was time to move on to the mayhem. And what mayhem it was!
Round 1 – Elimination
The first round saw an elimination format where each team was pitched against an opposing team, and the winners would fight other winners until one team was left. Each team could obtain points by besting the opposing team, with the magnitude of their success (ie. how many of their own survived) reflected in the scoring. The object of the combat was to remove the opposing Knight from the combat as quickly as possible, and his valets roles was to protect him – or assist the Knight in his efforts against the other Knight.
Each team had the opportunity of two team bouts, before the winners were paired off again and again till only one was left. At the end of this phase of scoring, Richard de Vere of Addington was placed in the lead position.
However, next up was the finale – the Grand Melee.
Round 2 – Grand Melee
In this final bout, all six teams would be pitched in the arena together at once. To reflect the difficulty of the task, large allocations of points would be awarded for the last three teams to survive, and weighted accordingly.
From the start, the de Vere’s lofty position at the top of the tree of honour made them a large and obvious target – and they were immediately hunted down by the other teams. As soon as Richard de Vere was on his back wondering what day of the week it was and why the sky looked so beautiful today, the combat switched instantly to a frantic winner takes all affair that roamed quickly and effortlessly across all four corners of the arena as each team attempted to leverage an position that allowed them to assault the enemy with advantage.
In the end – there can be only one. And is was the team of Sir William Harrington that emerged victorious.
The teams were assembled to hear the winner.
But wait! Lady Harrington intervened and awarded a bonus point for bravery. This meant that the teams of Lord Grey of Ruthin and Sir William Harrington were level on points.
With a tie, the Marshall called for single combat to decide the day. Lord Grey stood forward himself, and Sir William graciously allowed one of his team to earn the honour.
Following a cautious battle, with points being earned on both side – Sir William’s man emerged victorious, and he was dutifully presented with the Sword of Honour, and our tournament concluded to thunderous applause.
Following the tournament, it was the turn of the local children to get involved – and despite the Companye members being dead on their feet we were happy to wear people’s kids out before hometime!!
All in all, it was a very successful display – especially considering it was a first for the Companye and we were delighted that FODA allowed us put this format on for them, and the way it was received by the public.
A couple of thank yous are also in order.
- To our commentary team – Phil & KOF, who did an excellent job with narration, scoring and keeping order.
- To our wonderful musicians Lauren and Paul, who really brought the combat to life.
- To all those in the noble gallery, and who worked backstage armoring the participants and bringing them water on a really hot day.
- And lastly, to Alec – for manufacturing the iron arena at such short notice.
Your commitment is noted!
The event was featured in the local press, you can read the local news coverage here.
The Friends of Delapre Abbey have posted a wonderful set of photos which you can view here:
Hopefully, the event will be repeated again next year – its a historic site, and do please visit and support the Friends in their heritage work.
If you live local and would like to get involved with the Companye, why not come along to our Social meeting on Wednesday 20th August at The Olde England?