2015 Banquet Review

On Saturday 28th November the Companye assembled at Greens Norton for our annual banquet. We were joined by guests from the De Cobhams, The Company of St Barbara and Happening History – whose own review of our event can be found here.

Our menu for this year was as usual drawn from appropriate 15th Century Sources.

In the medieval period, there were no ‘courses’ as such – rather they had ‘removes’ where dishes were swapped out on the table and diners at as much as they desired.

First Remove

Vegetable Pottage, served within a Bread trencher

Second Remove

Roe Deer Venison stuffed with spices

Third Remove

Roasted winter vegetables

Mushroom cheese and bacon pie

Fourth Remove

Spit roasted Pork stuffed with herbs and stuffing

Fifth Remove

Oven baked apples with spices, served with a period rice pudding of almond milk

Sixth Remove 

French and English cheeses


Everyone was dressed up in period clothing, with some in high end finery. One new feature this year was the livery coat worn by Sir William, which was created as a result of the fantastic research on reconstructing  livery coats by Alex Kay of the Pastons.  These are often shown in a banquet context so one in the black livery of the Companye was constructed especially.

“Power Vest” style livery as per the research by Alex Kay

Our banquets always feature songs, we are especially proud of the talent we have within the group and this year we were treated to two wonderful pieces.

The first was’Down in Yon Forest’, sung by a Trio of Phil D, Kathleen D, and Jo A.

“Down in Yon Forest” (or “Down in Yon Forrest”) is a traditional English Christmas carol dating at least to the Renaissance era, ultimately deriving from the anonymous Middle English poem known today as the Corpus Christi Carol.

The carol has been arranged in modern English by Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Jacob Niles and John Rutter, among others.

Down in yon forest there stands a hall:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
It’s covered all over with purple and pall
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

In that hall there stands a bed:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
It’s covered all over with scarlet so red:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

At the bed-side there lies a stone:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
Which the sweet Virgin Mary knelt upon:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

Under that bed there runs a flood:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
The one half runs water, the other runs blood:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

At the bed’s foot there grows a thorn:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
Which ever blows blossom since he was born:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

Over that bed the moon shines bright:
The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:
Denoting our Saviour was born this night:
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

The second piece was a folk song known as Twa Corbies and sung as duet by Phil & Kathleen D. This is a Scottish derivative of ‘The Three Ravens’ and it follows a similar general story, but with a cynical twist.

There are only two scavengers in “The Twa Corbies”, but this is the least of the differences between the songs, though they do begin the same. Rather than commenting on the loyalty of the knight’s beasts, the corbies tell that the hawk and the hound have forsaken their master, and are off chasing other game, while his mistress has already taken another lover. The ravens are therefore given an undisturbed meal, as nobody else knows where the man lies, or even that he is dead. They talk in gruesome detail about the meal they will make of him, plucking out his eyes and using his hair for their nests. Some themes believed to be portrayed in “Twa Corbies” are: the fragility of life, the idea life goes on after death, and a more pessimistic viewpoint on life. The loneliness and despair of the song are summed up in the final couplets;

O’er his banes [bones], when they are bare,
The wind sall [shall] blaw for evermair

There may be a few different versions of this anonymously authored poem. The full text of at least one version of the poem is as follows:

As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t’other say,
‘Where sall we gang and dine to-day?’
‘In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.
‘His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild-fowl hame,
His lady’s taen another mate,
So we may mak our dinner sweet.
‘Ye’ll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I’ll pike out his bonny blue een;
Wi ae lock o his gowden hair
We’ll theek our nest when it grows bare.
‘Mony a one for him makes mane,
But nane sall ken where he is gane;
Oer his white banes, when they are bare,
The wind sall blaw for evermair.

Next up was the Harrington Awards, the most important part of the evening where we recognise achievement from within the Companye.


Having fun

Firstly, Tony H, Kerin I, Matt C, Sarah M & Chloe M were indentured into full service with the Companye, and may add the honour of the Knot to their black livery.

Then – the CAPTAIN TIGHT PANTS award. No, really. A bit of fun, but Nick H was awarded this dubious honour for busting out the crotch on his hose at Goodrich Castle in August, and had to be sewn up mid combat round to avoid causing a Public Order Offence.

Then, came the discipline awards. Archer of Wolfage Manor is a trophy and title awarded to the best target archer among us, which is annually contested for at a shoot at Hazelborough Forest. For the second year running, Stan was top of the pile – and retains his title.

Within the Companye we also recognise archery accomplishments where the target moves and fights back. The Combat Archery Champion is a title awarded to the best peforming archer in our Woodland Skirmishes. This tracks a number of Key Performance Indicators to find someone who can actually adapt to changing circumstances, as well as shooting under pressure. It was a VERY close decision (1 pt in it) but Alec “The Bodycount” retained his title – and proving he is lethal in the woodland arena.  Both KOF and Corin were also highlighted for the best “Survivalist” achievement, and Alan H for the “Killing Spree” achievement (most kills in one game round).

Next came the award for Foot Combat Champion. For this a number of areas were taken into consideration – performance in the Skirmish Arena, Battlefield, and the Harrington Tournaments of Foot. Sir William Harrington was top of the “Tactical Points” in the Skirmish Games (most games won/objectives met), which was rather encouraging given he is in charge. Both Kevin H and Phil D received mentions in dispatches for highly creditable performances on the battlefields this year.

However this years winner and new Combat Champion was revealed to be Warren M. Well done, he will now be called upon to defend our honour. The prize was donated from those fine folks at Timeline Minatures – be sure to check them out!

The Fantastic Combat Champion Prize, donated by Timeline Minatures

The Fantastic Combat Champion Prize, donated by Timeline Minatures

Following on from this, a new award for 2015 – the best Living History Encampment, acknowledging the most friendly and open display for the public. In it’s innaugural year, there was some stiff competition but Stan was acknowledged winner as his encampment was called out by the Judges at the Fayre Times festival as truly amazing.

Lastly – the most important award, the Harrington of the Year, voted in a secret ballot by the Companye. Nick H received his second award of the evening – for the work he had put in to the fantastic Tournament Gallery. He received a standing ovation on collecting his trophy.

Then as the  sixth remove occured, all eyes moved to the rear of the room and the traditional end of banquet entertainment – the Mummers Play. Last year we had been spoilt by professional author Tony Lee creating one for us based upon the legend of St George. This year was a more in house affair and was the tale of Robin Hood and the Evil Sorcerer. This was well received (though has a number of ‘in’ jokes, sorry) and can be viewed below.


Then, as the evening drew to a close we finished with some group singing and a final attempt to eat even more! It had been a truly great banquet.

Jo and Sarah

No, we don’t know what she’s been doing with her either!

And as the year draws to a close, we reflect back on a fantastic 2015 – though it’s not over yet, we still have our December Skirmish still to come.

Roll on 2016 – we have some fantastic events to look forward to!

  1. 2016 Banquet – Menu announced! | Sir William Harrington's Companye

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