Archive for June, 2018

Article – Magic hose

It is the conventional wisdom amongst 15th C Living historians that hose (tight trousers..) do not stay up on their own. Modern interpretations of hose often have the waistline higher than perhaps they should, and some living historians regard hose worn with no upper garment to support them as a common ‘re-enactorism’.

We have previously blogged about the importance of joined hose in the period, and indeed our kit standard currently dictates that a doublet (or sleeveless doublet (should be worn in conjunction with them.

But history is a funny thing. New research is undertaken all the time, and of late we have found a number of cases where joined hose are worn on their own with no upper garments supporting them.


Quintus Curtius Rufus, Faits et gestes d’Alexandre Brügge · ca. 1475-1500 Ms. fr. 76 Folio 221r



hose 5.PNG

Ottheinrich-Bibel, Bd. 2: Mt 26,31 – Lk 5,26 Regensburger Raum, 15./16. Jh. Cgm 8010(2) Folio 53

To be clear – we believe these are edge cases, and by far the majority of illustrations show hose worn with an upper garment. There is certainly NO evidence for the belted untucked shirt that seems to be common in some groups portrayals and worn like an earlier saxon/viking tunic. Indeed, some source show a shaped belt worn over the shirt:

belt hose

Flagellation of Christ, c 1480, detail. This appears to show joined hosen suspended from a shaped belt, rather than a doublet.

Our research will continue, but for now – the jury is very much out! Until then, its still probably best to roll down your doublet if hot..


Detail from Martyrdom of St Erasmus (triptych) by BOUTS, Dieric the Elder


Leave a comment

Protected: 2018 Battle of Northampton Event

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Leave a comment

Event Review – The Battle of Barnet

by Guest Editor The Almighty Kof


The Fog of War

Last weekend, Sir William and the Companye had the pleasure of being part of the first, and hopefully inaugural, Battle of Barnet event in North London. Bringing together the Medieval Siege Society, Households from the Wars of the Roses Federation (including some northern Harrington cousins), the House of Bayard, Barnet Museum, and The Barnet Battlefields Trust this was truly a stupendous undertaking and an event we hope will grow.

Theresa Villiers MP

Theresa Villiers MP, who opened the event.

Commemorating and reenacting the 1461 Second Battle of St Albans in the morning, before advancing 10 years and portraying the 1471 Battle of Barnet in the afternoon, the fighters of the Companye had a thorough workout!

The Battle of Barnet, one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses, as it, along with the Battle of Tewkesbury, secured the throne of England for Edward IV and ensures 14 years of Yorkist rule thereafter. A difficult battle to reproduce, due to a 90-degree shift of the field of battle mid-way through, the spectacle nevertheless went off without a hitch, to great acclaim from the enthusiastic crowd. Sir William and his retainers were under particular scrutiny this time, as they had the honour of forming the bodyguard of the king himself on the battlefield.


“Well how do you know he is the King..?”

Not to be outdone, the ladies of the companye, left behind to guard the camp, made do with shopping, cooking, needlework, gossip and chatting to some of the 5000 public visitors over the weekend. Three Harrington ladies even went so far as to perform the famous 15th century ‘reverse striptease’ as they first stripped off, then re-dressed for a ‘Dressing of the Lady’ display, which was surprisingly well attended, even when the spectators knew the clothes were going on, not coming off!

The visitors to this show were the real highlight of the weekend, coming armed with enthusiasm, incisive questions (occasionally throwing us the hard ones!) and an interest in everything the societies had to offer, rarely have we had a crowd who matched us in our zeal for all things medieval!


A really appreciative crowd – thanks to all those who attended!

Now for a quick breather, before our next show – off to Kenilworth next weekend for one of our favourites – the Kenilworth Grand Medieval Joust! See you there!

Dead Douglas

Oh look. A dead Douglas – how novel!

Leave a comment

Event Review – The Siege of Hedingham Castle (2018)


Slightly later than planned but finally a review of our opening Medieval Siege Society event of the season, which took place on the early May bank holiday.

Hedingham Castle is the jewel in the MSS crown, and a welcome return every year – and 2018 was one of the best in recent memory.

For a May bank holiday it was hot. Dang hot. (Hottest place was my braies, you could cook things in them).

The Companye arrived and were set up in the lower Bailey area along with our great friends and battlefield rivals in the De Cobhams, which meant some great campfire singing was the order of the day.

This year’s events were based around the year 1469, and the unrest started by the Earl of Warwick in order to remove the family of the new Queen (Elizabeth Woodville) from positions of power around his nephew King Edward of York. This would of course culminate in the 1469 Battle of Edgecote, which the MSS has previously recreated on the actual battle site in 2009/10.

The scenario was that a steward of the castle in the service of the De Vere family, was still holding out against a Yorkist force sent by King Edward to starve them out, and to preserve the castles integrity. However, as the morning of the event started and the castellan agreed to surrender, news arrived of rebellion in the north, and the return from Calais of the Earl of Warwick. This changed the calculus of both sides – for the Lancastrians it was now worth holding out to see the outcome of the national squabble, for the besieging Yorkist force, time was no longer on their side and they now sought a quick end to this matter, regardless of the cost.

As it was a siege event, as well as the mighty MSS trebuchet (melon tossing with a smile TM) this year also had the cannon from our friends in the House of Bayard! Le Boom.

The fighting was fierce, and although the Yorkists had the better of the morning, the final assault upon the walls of Hedingham proved to be much for the attacking force. The Lancastrians carried the day, and with it hope that their absent queen Margaret of Anjou may one day return.



We were delighted that there are some videos of the event on YouTube, the links to which can be found below:

5th May Afternoon – Video

6th May Morning – Video 1

6th May Morning – Video 2

6th May Afternoon – Video

It was a great event, and there are far worse places to be than North Essex on a May Bank Holiday. We can’t wait to go back next year!


The annual Hedingham steps photo.

Leave a comment

The Ballad of Lady Bessy

Here is the section of the Ballad of Lady Bessy which talks about Sir William Harrington…

That noble knight in the West Countrey,
Tell him that about Michaelmas certaine
In England I do hope to be :
Att Millford haven I will come inn,
With all the power that make may I,
The first towne I will come inn
Shall be the towne of Shrewsbury :
Pray Sir William Stanley, that noble knight,
That night that he will look on me.
Commend me to Sir Gilbert Tallbott, that royall knight,
He much in the North Countrey ;
And Sir John Savage, that man of might,
Pray them all to look on me :
For I trust in Jesus Christ so full of might
In England for to abide and bee.
I will none of thy gold, Sir Prince, said Humphrey then,
Nor none sure will I have of thy fee ;
Therefore keep thy gold thee within,
For to wage thy company :
If every hair were a man,
With thee, Sir Prince, will I be.

Thus Humphrey Brereton his leave hath tane,
And saileth forth upon the sea ;
Straight to London rideth he then,
There as the Earle and Bessy lay ;
He took them either a letter in hand,
And bad them behold, read and see.
The Earle took leave of Richard the King,
And into the West wind woud he.
He left Bessye in Leicester then,
And bad her lye in privitye ;
For if King Richard knew thee here, anon
In a fire burned must thou be.
Straight to Latham the Earle is gone,
There as the Lord Strange then lee,
He sent the Lord Strange to London
To keep King Richards company.
Sir William Stanley made anone
Ten thousand coats readily,
Which were as redd as any blood,
There on the harts head was set full high,
Which after were tryed both trusty and good
As any coud be in Christantye.
Sir Gilbert Talbot ten thousand doggs
In one hours warning for to be,
And Sir John Savage fifteen white hoods,
Which wou’d fight and never flee,

Edward Stanley had three hundred men,
There were no better in Christentye,
Sir Rees ap Thomas, a knight of Wales certain,
Eight thousand spears brought he.
Sir William Stanley sat in the Holt Castle,
And looked over his head so high ;
Which way standeth the wind, can any tell ?
I pray you, my men, look and see.
The wind it standeth south-east,

So said a knight that stood him by.
This night yonder Prince truely
Into England entereth hee ;
He called a gentleman that stood him nigh,
His name was Rowland of Warburton,
He bad him go to Shrewsbury that night,
And bid yonder Prince come inn ;
But when Rowland came to Shrewsbury,
The port culles it was let downe ;
They called him Henry Tydder in scorn truely,
And said in England he shou’d wear no crowne.
Rowland bethought him of a wyle then,
And tied a writeing to a stone,
And threw the writeing over the wall certain,
And bad the balifFs to look it upon.
They opned the gates on every side,
And met the Prince with procession ;
And wou’d not in Shrewsbury there abide,
But straight he drest him to Stafford towne.

King Richard heard then of his comeing,
He called his Lords of great renowne ;
The Lord Pearcy he came to the King,
And upon his knees he falleth downe :
I have thirty thousand fighting men
For to keep the crown with thee.
The Duke of Northfolk came to the King anone,
And downe he falleth upon his knee ;

The Earle of Surrey, that was his heir,
Were both in one company :
We have either twenty thousand men here
For to keep the crown with thee.
The Lord Latimer, and the Lord Lovell,
And the Earle of Kent he stood him by ;
The Lord Ross, and the Lord Scrope, I you tell
They wer’ all in one company ;

The Bishopp of Durham he was not away ;
Sir William Bonner he stood him by :

The good Sir William of Harrington, as I say,
Said he wou’d fight and never fly.

King Richard made a messenger,
And sent him into the West Countrey ;
And bid the Earle of Darby make him bowne,
And bring twenty thousand men unto me,
Or else the Lord Strange his head I will him send,
And doubtless his son shall dye ;
For hitherto his father I took for my friend,
And now he hath deceived me.

Another herald appeared then :
To Sir William Stanley, that doughty knight ;
Bid him bring to me ten thousand men,
Or else to death he shall be dight.

Then answered that doughty knight,
And spake to the herald without letting ;
Say, upon Bosse worth field I mind to fight,
Uppon Monday early in the morning ;
Such a breakfast I him behight,
As never did knight to any King.
The messenger home can him gett,
To tell King Richard this tydeing.
Fast together his hands then cou’d he ding,
And said the Lord Strange shou’d surely dye ;
And putt him into the Tower of London,

For at liberty he shou’d not bee.
Lett us leave Richard and his Lords full of pride,
And talk we more of the Stanley’s blood,
That brought Richmond over the sea with wind and tyde,
From litle Brittain into England over the flood.
Now is Earle Richmond into Stafford come,
And Sir William Stanley to litle Stoone :
The Prince had rather then all the gold in Christentye
To have Sir William Stanley to look upon.
A messenger was made ready anone,
That night to go to litle Stoon :
Sir William Stanley he rideth to Stafford towne,
With a solemn company ready bowne ;
When the knight to Stafford was comin,
That Earle Richmond might him see,
He took him in his arms then,
And there he kissed him times three :
The welfare of thy body doth comfort me more
Then all the gold in Christantye.
Then answered that royall knight there,
And to the Prince these words spake he ;
Remember man, both night and day,

Who doth now the most for thee ;
In England thou shalt wear a crown, I say,
Or else doubtless I will dye :
A fairer lady then thou shalt have for thy feer,
Was there never in Christanty ;
She is a Countesse, a King’s daughter,
And there to both wise and witty.
I must this night to Stone, my soveraigne,
For to comfort my company.

The Prince he took him by the hand,
And said, Farewell, Sir William, fair and free.
Now is word come to Sir William Stanley there,
Earley in the Monday in the morning,
That the Earle of Darby, his brother dear,
Had given battle to Richard the King.
That wou’d I not, said Sir William anone,
For all the gold in Christantye,
That the battle shou’d be done,
Unless that he at the battle shou’d be done ;
Straight to Lichfield cou’d he ride,
In all the hast that might bee ;
And when he came to Lichfield that tyde,
All they, cryed King Henry,
Straight to Bolesworth can they go
In all the hast that might be.
But when he came Bolesworth field unto,
There met a royall company ;
The Earle of Darby thither was come,

And twenty thousand stood him by ;
Sir John Savage, his sisters son,
He was his nephew of his blood so nigh,
He had fifteen hundred fighting men,
That wou’d fight and never flye ;
Sir William Stanley, that royall knight, then
Ten thousand red-coats had he,
They wou’d bicker with their bows there,
They wou’d fight and never flye ;
The Red Ross, and the Blew Boar,
They were both a solemn company.

Sir Rees ap Thomas he was thereby,
With ten thousand spears of mighty tree.
The Earle of Richmond went to the Earle of Darby,
And downe he falleth upon his knee ;
Said, Father Stanley, full of might,
The vaward I pray you give to me,
For I am come to claime my right,

And faine revenged wou’d I bee.

Stand up, he said, my son quickly,
Thou has thy mothers blessing truely,
The vaward, son, I will give to thee,
So that thou wilt be ordered by me :
Sir William Stanley, my brother dear,
In the battle he shall bee ;
Sir John Savage, he hath no peer,
He shall be a wing then to thee ;
Sir Rees ap Thomas shall break the array,

For he will fight and never flee ;
I my selfe will hove on the hill, I say,
The fair battle I will see.
King Richard he hoveth upon the mountaine ;
He was aware of the banner of the bould Stanley,
And said, Fetch hither the Lord Strange certain,
For he shall dye this same day :
To the death, Lord, thee ready make,
For I tell thee certainly
That thou shalt dye for thy uncles sake,
Wild William of Standley.

If I shall dye, said the Lord Strange, then,
As God forbid it shou’d so bee,
Alas, for my Lady that is at home,
It shou’d be long or she see me ;
But we shall meet at dooms day,
When the great doom shall be.
He called for a Gent, in good say
Of Lancashire, both fair and free,
The name of him it was Lathum :
A ring of gould he took from his finger,
And threw it to the Gent, then,
And bad him bring it to Lancashire,
To his Lady that was at home ;
At her table she may sit right,
Or she see her Lord it may be long,
I have no foot to fligh nor fight,
I must be murdered with the King.

If fortune my uncle Sir William Stanley loose the field,
As God forbid it shou’d so bee,
Pray her to take my eldest son and child,
And exile him over behind the sea ;
He may come in another time,
By feild or fleet, by tower or towne,
Wreak so he may his fathers death in fyne,

Upon Richard of England that weareth the crown.

A knight to King Richard then did appeare,
The good Sir William of Harrington : .
Let that Lord have his life, my dear
Sir King, I pray you grant me this boone,
We shall have upon this field anon,
The father, the son, and the uncle all three ;
Then shall you deem, Lord, with your own mouth then,
What shall be the death of them all three.
Then a block was cast upon the ground,
Thereon the Lords head was laid ;
A slave over his head can stand,
And thus that time to him thus said :
In faith there is no other booty tho’
But need that thou must be dead.
Harrington in hart was full woe,
When he saw the Lord must needs be dead :
He said, Our ray breaketh on ev’ry side,
We put our feyld in jeopardie.
He took up the Lord that tyde,
King Richard after did him never see :

Then they blew up the bewgles of brass,
That made many a wife to cry, alas !
And many a wives child father lesse ;
They shott of guns then very fast,
Over their heads they cou’d them throw ;
Arrow’s flew them between,
As thick as any hayle or snowe,
As then that time might plaine be seene.
Then Rees ap Thomas with the black raven
Shortly he brake their array ;
Then with thirty thousand fighting men
The Lord Pearcy went his way ;
The Duke of Northfolke wou’d have fledd with a good will
With twentye thousand of his company,
They went up to a wind millne upon a hill
That stood soe fayre and wonderousse hye,
There he met Sir John Savage, a royall knight,
And with him a worthy company.
To the death was he then dight,

And his son prisoner taken was he ;
Then the Lord Alroes began for to flee,
And so did many other moe.
When King Richard that sight did see,
In his heart he was never soe woe ;
I pray you, my merry men, be not away,
For upon this field will I like a man dye,
For I had rather dye this day,
Then with the Standley prisoner for to be.

A knight to King Richard can say there,
Good Sir William of Harrington,
He said, Sir King, it hath no peere
Upon this feild to death to be done,
For there may no man these dints abide ;
Low, your horse is ready at your hand ;
Sett the crown upon my head that tyde,
Give me my battle ax in my hand ;
I make a vow to mild Mary that is so bright,
I will dye the King of merry England.
Besides his head they hewed the crown down right,
That after he was not able to stand ;
They dunge him downe as they were woode,
The beat his bassnet to his head,
Untill the braine came out with bloode ;
They never left him till he was dead.
Then carryed they him to Leicester,
And pulled his head under his feet.

Bessye mett him with a merry cheere,
And with these words she did him greete :
How like you the killing of my brethren dear ?
Welcome, gentle uncle, home !
Great solace it was to see and hear,
When the battle it was all done.
I tell you masters without lett,
When the Red Ross so fair of hew
And young Bessy together mett,
It was great joy 1 say to you.

Leave a comment

Event Review – Kenilworth Castle Medieval Festival 2018


Kenilworth Castle at Night.

The Companye have returned from our spiritual home of Kenilworth Castle. We are indelibly associated with this location, and have undertaken events here for English Heritage since the Companye first started. This was our first of two events here in 2018, if you missed us we will be back here again in June.

This was the Medieval Festival Bank Holiday event, taking place over the Sunday & Monday, and which was a replacement for the St George’s weekends that we had been doing previously. We were delighted to work once more with our great friends Myal Pyper (followers of this blog may remember them from our banquet), Raphael Historic Falconry, Peterkin the Fool, and Higgerflo.

We arrived on the Saturday, and were treated to the most amazing thunderstorm overnight. This was truly spectacular, and when one is just in awe of nature. The lightning was truly awesome and the thunder would probably have been so had it not been for some of the snoring going on which was giving it a run for the money.. (We know who you are – Editor)


Rob is currently on secondment from the North Pole, where he usually makes all the toys for the Good children!

Despite the Thunder God’s best efforts (Heretic, burn them – Editor) Sunday started with an archery display, there was some excellent shooting, with Master James emerging as the champion on the day. We culminated in a recreation of the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, where our brave French Knights advanced into the withering hail of arrows. For extra special sauce, this year our arena was at the base of Leicester’s Tower, which can best be described as Higher Nepal. Credit must got to Normous Nick for making it so far up the hill before meeting his gruesome end.

Then, in the afternoon it was time to demonstrate the arms and armour of the period. We had a great crowd, and showcased sword and buckler, longsword, and poleaxe, before moving into the team rounds. The latter was highly popular with the audience, partly because the hill we were fighting on caused much merriment as people kept hitting the deck!

Footage there of Corin dealing with someone who obviously looked the wrong way across the campsite at him. Readers can be reassured that the Lord gave Spencer two of them – it’ll be fine.

Unfortunately on the Sunday afternoon it started raining just as the public were leaving. This was not part of the plan.

So… it’s raining. Well, what do you do? You can either sit there moaning about your existence or you can get on with it. And if you are a Harrington, what better way to feel alive than dancing in the rain. With some members of the public (who enjoyed it immensely).

Here is some public footage of the dancing..

As someone once said – it can’t rain all the time. And so the weather cleared up, just in time for some evening campfire cooking and singing.

Monday was more of the same, but with even more public. We also had time for some keep fit..


Harrington Pilates – the Floor Sprung Dirk Technique! Wait, is that the fabled Rock Star Lenny in the background?

It was a great weekend, and we can’t wait to go back next month. See you there!

Leave a comment