By new member and guest reporter Kerin
The castle at Oxford was built between 1071 and 1073 by the Norman Baron Robert D’Oyly the elder. He came over with William in the conquest and was granted extensive lands in Oxfordshire. It has played many crucial roles over the centuries from the Anarchy to the Civil War and from the 18th century onwards as Oxford’s local prison and then in 1876 as HM Prison Oxford
What can mostly be seen of the complex today is mainly the old Victorian prison which has been converted into bars, restaurants and the Malmaison hotel. It was in a grassed courtyard by the entrance of the Malmaison hotel that we were located on this lovely sunny June day.
The sun was shining as we turned up to see Frog and family, who had camped there overnight, already set up and raring to go. After unpacking the cars and leaving the erection of the awning up to the men of the party it was time to inspect the area and the facilities. The fighting arena had been set up a short walk away in front of the Swan and Castle pub and a couple of restaurants. It was a circular arena of astro turf with the official diameter measurement of three ‘Kevs’
Pretty soon it was time for the public to arrive, and they did in droves. Both children and adults were interested in the armour and weapons with many of them asking to try on the armour and to hold the swords.
Soon it was time for arming of the knight and off went our knight Sir Kevin and his retinue to educate and inform the waiting public. Nearly all of the public followed which gave the ones left in the camp a chance to get it back into an orderly fashion and to stock up on water for the return of Sir Kevin and his retinue. At the arena the public were shown how each piece of armour fitted together and how it protected the wearer. Our valiant Knight proved by doing many star jumps that you can pretty much do anything while in armour than you can when not wearing armour. The next challenge we set him is to learn to do a handstand in armour … watch this space.
The next display a couple of hours later was the dagger fight, the public crowded around the arena, with many watching from the pub, to see the participants John, Rob, Mike and Roy engage in a great display of dagger fighting. Playing on his ‘local’ connection to get the crowd behind him the winner of the dagger fight was Roy of Oxford to which he celebrated and cheered by the crowd. While the men were proving themselves in battle back in camp the 3 wenches left to look after the camp were engaging with the public, namely an American rowing team. Alison and Jess noticed that one of the group was about the same build as our Sir Kevin and insisted they helped him put on the armour. Due to the height difference he if he could bend down a little so they could reach the buckle. He was very obliging and knelt down in front of them, this of course was in no way encouraged or enjoyed by Alison and Jess.
The final display of different fighting styles really got the crowd going, especially when a dagger was suddenly thrown into the arena during the spear fight. Further displays of fighting with sword, falchion, axe and buckler got the crowd ready for the choice between the circle of honour or treachery.
Surprisingly treachery was chosen and Sir Kevin was ganged up on and quickly dispatched. The remainder valiantly fought on until John came out as the winner. Another circle was called for and treachery was chosen by the crowd, and again the fighting was treacherous and the winner was John. With a little bit of ‘showboating’ and great commentary from Frog the audience was entertained as well as educated.
A great day was had by all involved and special mention to Frog, John and the especially the girls who were great stars of the day.