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Naseby Skirmish March 2019 – Review and Results 

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After a fantastic days woodland combat in the December mist at the Naseby location, here are results and awarded titles. Scoring was using the Harrington standard scoring system, with the Bomb Run, Take and HoldDispatch Runner, and Relic Capture  game types being played throughout the day.

GREATEST WARRIOR

Key Performance indicator: Accrued Tactical Points

Household Tactical Points Longest Streak
Matt C. Harrington 13 2
Tom G. Beaufort 13 2
Arthur T. Harrington 11 2
Marcus B. Harrington 11 3
Anthony F. Harrington 10 3
Dale M. Harrington 9 7
Dan B. Harrington 9 5
Nathan M. Independent 9 3
Roy B. Harrington 9 6
Tony R. Beaufort 9 4
Peter W. Harrington 9 4
Steph B. Harrington 4 2
Sam C. Harrington 6 3
Tom C. Harrington 6 3
Corin B. Harrington 3 3
Peter B. Harrington 3 3
Lee L. Harrington 2 1

DEADLIEST WARRIOR

Key Performance Indicator: Most Kills

Household Kills
Tom G. Beaufort 11
Pete W. Harrington 7
Peter B. Harrington 6
Tony R. Beaufort 6
Lee L. Harrington 6
Roy B. Harrington 5
Corin B. Harrington 5
Ant F. Harrington 4
Dan B. Harrington 3
Marcus B. Harrington 3
Tom C. Harrington 3
Arthur T. Harrington 3
Sam C. Harrington 2
Matt C. Harrington 2
Nathan M. Independent 2

KILLING SPREE (Most Kills in one game)

Pete W. : 5 kills, game type = Relic Capture (7 man lance)

SURVIVALIST (longest continuous number of games survived)
Dale M.: 7 games.

Also check out some GREAT in combat photos from Tony of the Beauforts Helmet Cam!

 

Thanks to all those that took part, it was a great day, and in our opinion this stuff is the most difficult and authentic 15th C combat in re-enactment. Any kind of score on any of the Key Performance Indicators is something to be proud of🙂

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Event Review – St George’s day festival at Kenilworth Castle 

 

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Our member’s impressive hand painted tent next to the original Norman Keep.

The Companye have returned from our annual April event at the splendid Kenilworth Castle. Staged by Historic England (previously English Heritage) we celebrated the festival of St George – patron Saint of England.

Kenilworth Castle is located in the town of the same name in Warwickshire, England. Constructed from Norman through to Tudor times, the castle has been described by architectural historian Anthony Emery as “the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant for its scale, form and quality of workmanship”. It is certainly an impressive place to spend the weekend!

The castle was built over several centuries. Founded in the 1120s around a powerful Norman great tower, the castle was significantly enlarged by King John at the beginning of the 13th century. Huge water defences were created by damming the local streams, and the resulting fortifications proved able to withstand assaults by land and water in 1266. John of Gaunt spent lavishly in the late 14th century, turning the medieval castle into a palace fortress designed in the latest perpendicular style.

Many castles, especially royal castles were left to decay in the 15th century; Kenilworth, however, continued to be used as a centre of choice, forming a late medieval “palace fortress”.

Henry IV, John of Gaunt’s son, returned Kenilworth to royal ownership when he took the throne in 1399 and made extensive use of the castle. In 1403, after the Battle of Shrewsbury, Sir James Harrington was knighted and it is highly probable that it was at this very castle.

Henry V also used Kenilworth extensively, but preferred to stay in the Pleasance, the mock castle he had built on the other side of the Great Mere. According to the contemporary chronicler John Strecche, who lived at the neighbouring Kenilworth Priory, the French openly mocked Henry in 1414 by sending him a gift of tennis balls at Kenilworth. The French aim was to imply a lack of martial prowess; according to Strecche, the gift spurred Henry’s decision to fight the Agincourt campaign. The account was used by Shakespeare as the basis for a scene in his play Henry V.

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The Companye’s Richard III escutcheon on site at Kenilworth

English castles, including Kenilworth, did not play a decisive role during the Wars of the Roses (1455–85), which were fought primarily in the form of pitched battles between the rival factions of the Lancastrians and the Yorkists.

With the mental collapse of King Henry VI, Queen Margaret used the Duchy of Lancaster lands in the Midlands, including Kenilworth, as one of her key bases of military support.Margaret removed Henry from London in 1456 for his own safety and until 1461, Henry’s court divided almost all its time among Kenilworth, Leicester and Tutbury Castle (where we were the previous month) for the purposes of protection. Kenilworth remained an important Lancastrian stronghold for the rest of the war, often acting as a military balance to the nearby castle of Warwick. With the victory of Henry VII at Bosworth, Kenilworth again received royal attention; Henry visited frequently and had a tennis court constructed at the castle for his use.His son, Henry VIII, decided that Kenilworth should be maintained as a royal castle.

The Festival of St George is a firm favourite with English Heritage members and members flock from all over the country, and well as a large local turnout. As well as the Harrington Companye, the event featured performances by Mark Vance as St George, a rather humorous (and pungent) Dragon, as well as music by Myal Piper, and activities from Griffin Historical.

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St George – and the Dragon!

 

As well as our award winning living history encampment, we undertook two arena displays each day.

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The northern half of the camp, outside the stables.

In the morning, we staged a display of archery from the fifteenth century. The public were entertained with speed shoots, a display of accuracy and really got into cheering our archers on. This culminated with a Companye specialty – the Reduced Harrington Companye portrayal of the Battle of Agincourt.

Thousands of French knights met their deaths at the hands of our skilled archers, the stench of garlic was truly horrendous.

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The archery contest. Master Tony is probably cheating.

In the afternoon, we staged a display of fifteenth century combat. Starting with a close up view of how a man shall be armed in harnesse, we then showcased the various weapon types from the period. Dagger, Sword, Longsword, Spear, Poleaxe were all showcased to the cheering crowds – who soon caught on and cheered.

Finally, it was time for a group melee – the Circles of Honour, and Treachery.

Last year, Master Stan has used this to great effect – hiding in an castle alcove until the end and ambushing the winner  – this year he wasn’t allowed to run off an hide but he gave an excellent account of himself in the first round.

Back at camp, there were two undisputed stars of the show. The new forge, which had been debuted at Tutbury had a keen following and Alec the smith didn’t get a rest from the public all day. This meant that neither did Sam, who did pretty much the full days shift on bellows duty. Well done Sam, proof that Child Labour is alive and well 😉

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The Forge

Meanwhile, Adrian our ever popular Hospitaller and his medical instruments were of great interest to the public. Little did he know it, but it was going to be a special weekend for him – but more on that later!

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The Hospitallar’s camp

In other news, we were delighted to meet Evie, the newest member of our Companye. She was really popular with our members as this next photo shows. Evie was especially popular with Sarah, and Rosie was lucky she handed her back..

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Sarah: “I GOTTA GET ME ONE OF THESE!!!!!” Lee: “TAXI!!!!! TAKE ME TA CUBA!!”

 

For the Companye though, the highlight of the weekend actually came after the public had left on the Saturday evening. Little did Adrian realise when he woke that day, what we had in store for him.

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A monk at rest. Doesn’t he look unsuspecting. Mwhahahaha..

The Companye operates a recognition system for our members. The Order of The White Lion was created for those members who truly go above and beyond in terms of the accuracy of their portrayal, their knowledge of the period, and their conduct on and off the battlefield. On April 23rd, we awarded this to Adrian.

Why Kenilworth? Because as mentioned, according to historians it is highly probable that Sir James Harrington received his knighthood in the Great Hall there in 1403. Hence, we would recreate this ceremony for our first inductee…

A number of trusted members of the Companye were in on the act, but it was a great surprise to most. As evening fell, Adrian was taken to a place of Solitude to reflect on what the Companye meant to him. Traditionally we needed a full 24 hour vigil, but with the public arriving the following day this was tricky!

He was then collected by his Aide de camp carrying his sword and his esquire carrying his tournament helm, and brought to the Great Hall of Henry IV, which was now lit up by candlelight and torchlight.

As Adrian entered the chamber, our musicians played and sang The Agincourt Carol, fitting given the Great Halls’s connection to the Agincourt Campaign – for it was here that Henry V received the gift of tennis balls from the Dauphin.

Adrian was then paraded to Sir William, where he received the Colee stroke – the last blow he would receive unanswered. There is some disagreement among historians on the actual ceremony and in what time period certain methods could have been used. It could have been an embrace or a slight blow on the neck or cheek. It had been decided to use the accolade of a sword, after studying this Early 15th Century image.

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King John II of France in a ceremony of “abdoubement”, early 15th century miniature

 Words such as Advances Chevalier au nom de Dieu were possibly spoken at this point. Given the move to English in English Court by this point it was decided to accolade him in the name of Saint Michael and St George, the patrons of Soldiers and England respectively.

Following this, Sir Adrian was now awarded the White Lion Livery of Wolfage Manor, and recognised by all.

The award ceremony was not yet complete for we also took the opportunity to recognise Sam C., and the Martindale clan and award them their livery Knot after their probation period.

Nodo Firmo.

Lastly, Sir William supplied some mead for all, and we toasted those ancient walls – for they must have witnessed many such scenes.

For those interested, the full video is here below:


The ceremony was complete and the Companye took advantage of the Spring evening to enjoy ourselves  – part of the wow factor of this wonderful hobby is the privilege of staying at such wonderful historic sites. We think Adrian was quite happy with his accolade as he was full of the joys of Spring the following morning..

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Adrian – clearly rather made up!!

Sunday saw a repeat of our displays and even more public. A little over 2500 public visited the site over the weekend, and many were repeat visitors who love what we do – and we love entertaining them. Kenilworth always draws an appreciative crowd and Sunday was no exception.

Finally just as the event drew to a close, a bout of inclement weather meant the public hurriedly left – leaving Myal Piper playing to an empty field.

Now, the Companye is many things, but one thing we are most certainly not is unappreciative. So, quick as a flash we ran up the hill and proceeded to show our appreciation through the ahem, medium of Interpretive Dance.

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No animals were harmed in the making of this photograph

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“And Judges, the scores for looking up Sarah’s skirt please..?”

 

Not to be outdone, we treated the Pipers to a full rendition of “Father Harrington” – complete with actions. We believe as fully trained musicians they appreciated our efforts, though running off screaming was admittedly a strange way of showing it.

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Father Harrington, Seven Sons he had…

And so the event came to an end. A special one for us all, and one to cherish for a lifetime. We will return there again this year, in June – but for now it was time to take the Companye on Campaign once more to Hedingham Castle…

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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

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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.

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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!
   

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Event Review – Old Sarum 2015

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On the early May Bank Holiday, a number of the Companye attended the joint MSS & Wars of the Roses Federation event at Old Sarum in Wiltshire. This was the first time we had been there since our event back in 2013.

We thought we would give a slightly different review this time. Below are some experiences from a new and long standing member of the Companye.

“As a new member to the MSS and the Harrington Companye, I would like to write a review of my first event at Old Sarum. This was a fantastic weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Great company, terrific re-enactment, superb food and well laid out and organised Living History camp. Thanks to Izzy for the loan of the Companye dress. As a non-combatant spectator, I assisted English Heritage with the border ropes and it was very satisfying to hear the public enjoy themselves so much, they loved it. I took time out to take some photos of the encounter, which was brilliant. Thank you so much to the Harrington Companye for welcoming into your group, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the next event.” – New Harrington Companye member Jean McD. 

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“Well, I have had a great weekend at Old Sarum and it has been a buffet of culinary delights (and some not-so-delights).

“Alison, your medieval pottage went down a treat. Isabella and Jean thanks for keeping me fed and full of much needed morning tea. Adrian the experimental chef… great at eggs but should be kept away from oat based desserts. Kevin, your sausage cooking skills are…singular and Kathleen – excellent hot sticky balls!” – Jess D.

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“I spread most of my time evenly between being a traitor….flirting with women…misbehaving in the archery displays and not doing as I was told…. and eating of course! Great event though and wonderful place…highly recommended” – Stan

Our members clearly had a great time, and hopefully English Heritage will allow us to return to this splendid site again next year!

Next event for the Companye is The Tournament at Delapre Abbey. Planning is already afoot for our showpiece event of the year – don’t miss it!

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Event Review – Kenilworth Castle

This is what sunrises should be about..

The Companye has returned from a glorious weekend celebrating the feast of St George at Kenilworth Castle.

The Castle is a particular favourite of the Harrington’s – we regarding it as our ‘home’ castle and have a great relationship with the custodians and the public alike.

We were joined in our endeavours by Mark Vance’s excellent team who were entertaining the crowds with the story of St George and the Dragon. It was also a delight to bump into Kay and Tony Rouse who were showing Medieval Toys and Games.

As per usual, we were encamped on the green adjacent to the Earl of Warwick’s stables. There was a busy throng of members of the public throughout each day, the venue is popular with people both local and from further afield.

Sneaky photo from the tent, event in full swing..

As well as our award winning living history,we undertook two arena displays. The first was a demonstration of archery from the fifteenth century. Tests of accuracy and speed were shown to the assembled throng, before the Reduced Shakespeare Harrington Companye staged a recreation of the Battle of Agincourt. Thousands (kind of..) of French knights (missing the odd horse, well all of them actually) strode manfully up the hill to face to onslaught of  hundreds of English archers (well, we exaggerate a bit, it’s twelve inches don’t you know!). As each shaft crashed home the french army came to a halt, before being polished off in the mud by grubby English archers with daggers. The Horror.

In short, the crowd loved it – so much we had to do it a second time for them. Great Fun.

In the afternoon, the we displayed Arms and Armour from the Fifteenth Century. Two different styles of harness were shown and discussed, various weapon types were introduced, before combat circles were joined.

COMBAT RESULTS

Day Round Type Winner
Saturday 1 Treachery Stan
Saturday 2 Honour Nick H.
Sunday 1 Treachery Howard
Sunday 2 Honour Ant F.
Sunday 3 Treachery Stan

“Is it too late to settle this via Tiddlywinks…?”

The unabashed highlight of the show was the final combat circle on Sunday. At the start of the round, totally unscripted and totally unnoticed by everyone, Stan snuck into the ante room of the castle wall at the edge of the arena. One by one, the combatants were eliminated, until only Howard – our grizzled veteran from the wars in France – remained. As Howard roared his triumph and turned to take the applause of the crowd, Stan dashed from hiding and opened him up with a dagger. No one was more surprised than Howard, the crowd showed its appreciation for such a winning stratagem and we guess that’s what happens when you train the Companye to fight in the woodlands and use the terrain to one’s advantage. Fair play Stan.

Following on from the combat display it was the turn of the kids from the public. Grown men were reduced to quivering wrecks against the “little darlings” of Kenilworth, who had obviously been drinking far far too much energy drinks and Haribo…

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Overall, it was a fantastic event and one of our absolute favourites on our calendar. Despite weather warnings it had been a sunny weekend and no one really wanted to leave on Sunday night – modern life is hard to return to after great events like these.

One final thing – the event clashes with the local Horsefair in Kenilworth, and each year on our return home we pass the ground were it is held and see the state the occupants leave the place in.  We pride ourselves on leaving no trace (we are a pioneer companye after all!) and you can see this for yourselves below – if only others in this beautiful country of ours treated it with similar respect..

Before..

After…

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News – Kenilworth Castle return confirmed for 2015

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The Companye are delighted to confirm that they will be returning in 2015 to the splendid Kenilworth Castle, one of the jewels in English Heritage’s crown.

The Companye will be there with a full living history encampment as well as undertaking arena displays as part of English Heritage’s spectacular St George’s festival weekend (April 25th & 26th).

The castle is a favourite location of the Companye, and we are delighted that English Heritage have awarded us the opportunity of a return.

You can read more on the 2014 event here.

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Result – Harrington Archery contest

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Members of the Companye out in the woods enjoying themselves on an autumnal afternoon

The Title of Harrington Archery Champion was fiercely contested at the beautiful Hazelborough Forest today.

The course was two rounds of thirteen challenging targets, with the best score from each round being submitted. Archers shoot a single arrow from each peg, with the first arrow to hit the target being used for scoring (and weighted accordingly)

After two rounds, The Results were as follows:

NAME (Household) Score

Stan (Harrington) 156
Viv (Hazelborough Archers) 134
Ant F (Harrington) 128
Alison (Guest)122
Corin (Harrington) 110
Howard (Hazelborough Archers) 96
Pete Br (Harrington) 98
Pete B (Harrington) 80
Lenette (Harrington) 62
Cheri (Harrington) 46
Mark (Harrington) 26
Jo (Harrington) 20

Accordingly, Stan is awarded the trophy and title of Master Archer of Wolfage Manor

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, which also featured Mark S in fine form. He has been nicknamed the “EntSlayer” for his amazing ability to hit trees…

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“Take that Treebeard!”

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“For the White Hand!”

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“Oh look – another one!”

We’d like to thank the fantastic catering team who laid on hot teas, and bacon butties all day. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

Next up, the Companye Banquet, and December skirmish..

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Event Review – Fayre Times Festival

Report by Special Guest Reporter ‘Who’sthatgirlit’sJess!”

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With the last event of the season upon us, those Harringtons not quite ready to heed the rumours that ‘Winter is coming,’ picked up our Cataclysmic Adamantite Shortsword (with +5 to fire attack) and a light lunch, heading off in search of another adventure in the form of the Fayre Times Festival.
The Fayre Times Festival is described as a ‘celebration of History, Folklore and Fantasy’. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of Historians, Re-enactors, Live Action Role-players juxtaposed within one field. Located within 170 acres of land the Royal Gunpowder Mills was the setting for the event, which boasted a 300 year old history of gunpowder, explosives and rockets. Inviting people of all ages to visit the interactive museum, take a ride on the land train and even handle some weapons in the armoury.

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Upon completion of our pilgrimage to the site, we followed a Pirate through the gates and into the main field where the main arena was surrounded with tents-a-plenty ranging from the 8th century Viking tents to the 28th century apocalyptic soldiers of fortune barracks (with added camouflage). We passed what looked like the offspring result of when an elf falls in love with an oompa-loompa and swiftly located our fellow MSS-ers already pitched and discussed the day’s events.
Both days had a similar timetable: the morning saw the day kick off with a parade led by the MSS (the Vikings were supposed to be first but they had got lost along the way). Displays were provided, by various groups within the main arena including the Vikings, Battle of the nations (angry hugging), the MSS, the Society of Creative Anachronism and Sir Marmaduke Rawdon’s Regiment of Foote.
The MSS gave it their all with their hour long slot; Hosted by Ian Simmons he first introduced the Archers who took the opportune moment to show off their speedy draws. This was followed by the Sappers (including two Harringtons newly recruited and trained to the post, that weekend) and their baby Cecil, the Trebuchet; who blasted the Dragonscale Pavaise of the Corrupted with Frenzied anti-matter cabbages (complete with shield upgrade: obsidian parcel tape of protection).

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Upon destruction of the Pavaise, the men at arms got to show off their skill and prowess in one to one combat and the circle of treachery, where our one and only Harrington was seized upon by five de Cobhams; he fought bravely and died with honour… Fortunately he had a life left, so managed to regenerate in time for the archers to pummel the men at arms hiding behind the pavaise… Unfortunately he died again losing not only his last life but also the 97 gold rings he had collected along the way. The remaining men at arms were swiftly dispatched by a maniacal female wielding the divine giant spoon of sundering. The rest of the day allowed free time to visit the site, take a mini train ride, look around the trade stalls, eat, observe what it is that LARPers do, and generally relax and have a good time.

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The second day ended with our very own Stan the Bow Man winning 2nd prize in the Archery competition (a hearty £500) and the MSS winning 1st prize in the re-enactment group display competition.

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prize

Overall a great event enjoyed by all and with plenty of room for expansion next year. The perfect way to end the season in a relaxed, less formal event with a variety of things to do and plenty of time to play.

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Event Review – The Siege of Dover Castle

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Storming the gate

The Companye has returned from the best event of the year and very possibly the decade. This year we’ve attended Tewkesbury, Bosworth, Hedingham but this year’s event at Dover Castle blew them all out of the water. Why? Read on…

Having had nearly £3000 of equipment sadly stolen at last year’s England’s Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle, the Companye decided for a change and try something new in the form of Dover Castle.

Dover castle without doubt is one of the most amazing historic properties that English Heritage maintain. It represents almost two thousand years of settlement and fortification and is it visually imposing. Members of the Harringtons who had not visited previously were amazed when they crested the hill from the A2 and saw exactly how large and complex it is.

We arrived on the Friday and English Heritage had exceeded our expectations. The battleground lay before the 30 ft walls of the Inner Bailey, and a false gateway & battlements had been constructed between two of the bastions. You can see it in the photo above, and it was absolutely fantastic.  This was approached by a steep bank (more on that later) making it even more of a challenge. A Sap had also been constructed , and the Mighty MSS Trebuchet was standing proud ready to do it’s worst to the walls.

With the Companye  now so excited we resembled a bunch of five year olds on Christmas morning, we proceeded to where we camping for the next three days, which was on the lower bailey area. The various MSS encampments were spread throughout the various areas of Dover Castle and it was great to have little pocket villages sprouting up everywhere around the site.

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The Peveral Gate, the Harrington Camp was accessed through this archway

We were camped beyond Peveral gate and had a number of the outer  Towers adjacent from the Camp site with some simply awesome views across the English Channel and France beyond.  Only Ant and Justin of the Companye had previously camped at Dover   (back in the nineties) and both were getting misty eyed and agreeing that it was far, far too long since a return.

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The View from the Harrington Camp – just an awesome spectacle

 

On the first day the weather was kind, and we proceeded to lay siege to the Tower. The backstory was that it was 1459 and the Earl of Warwick was returning from Calais to cause unrest in favour of the Yorkist cause. However Earl Rivers, a stanch Lancastrian was determined to capture him.

After Warwick was trapped in the Great Keep by River’s forces, Sir William Harrington was ordered to lead the assault on the castle and capture the Earl.

Firstly, the mighty trebuchet sent a (carefully constructed and English Heritage approved) ‘rock’ towards the castle which thundered into the walls, showering the defenders underneath.

Ordering his archers to keep the Yorkist’s heads down Sir William divided his attacking forces into two ladder parties and began the assault.

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The intial assault – onwards to glory!

As we made our way across the open ground, we were met with an arrow storm from the battlements. Men were dropping like flies but we soldiered on. Next we hit the slope before the walls, this was a mighty obstacle (it is deceptive how much of an obstacle this is when encumbered by armour and being shot at) but with the assistance of grappling hooks and scaling ladders we hauled our selves up to the walls.

At this point the defenders unleashed hell upon us!

Rocks were rained down upon us. Men scaling ladders were speared. Just as it could not get any worse, boiling oil was cascaded over the assault party. All that was missing was Obadiah Hakeswill screaming “Mother!!!”..

Steeling ourselves against the relentless resistance of the defenders, we set to the task at hand and attempted to scale the walls. Good men were sent up ladders, yet none could clamber over into the defences. Slowly, the assault was running out of impetus…

Seeing his men being consumed by the Dover Castle meat grinder, Earl Rivers ordered a retreat in order to allow the Trebuchet continue it’s work on the defences.

Despite this setback, the Harringtons returned to their camp to replenish and take on food. After lunch, under the terms of the siege, a tournament was proposed between the besiegers and the besieged which both sides agreed to.

Firstly, an archery contest took place on the castle green. To the dismay of the partisan crowd, an Arbalest (crossbow) from the defenders won the day with some excellent shooting.

Next up was a Pas d’arms, a foot combat tournament. Heavily armoured combatants from both sides took turns in testing their skills, to the delight of the spectators. Finally, a Grand Melee was proposed (see Delapre Abbey) which started apace. However, it became apparent that this was a cunning ruse of war, and Warwick had taken the opportunity to slip some messengers out from a Sally Port and breach the siege lines. One was captured, but one made it through and was on the way to London – where the Earl of Warwick’s powerful friends would bring aid.

This forced Earl River’s hand – and the assault was ordered to re commence immediately. Gathering their forces, the Harringtons prepared to return to the battle lines once more.

Once the army was assembled, the trebuchet opened up on the castle once more. Shot after shot pounded into the gate, the terrified defenders curled up behind the battlements and whimpering. Or it may have been laughter, we couldn’t quite tell.

The gateway now having been weakened, Sir William ordered the Sappers to fire the Sap they had been digging underneath the mighty walls. A burning brand was brought up and despite some excellent shooting from the defending archers the sap was alight!!

However, the sap failed to bring the castle down – much to the relief of English Heritage we suspect.

Frustrated at the failure of the sappers, Sir William ordered the Harrington Pioneers to lead the assault on the castle. This time, they would rely on different means to breach the walls, and a stout battering ram had been obtained. Lord Brooke’s men would attack via the north side once the pioneers had laid the way.

Once more, the Harrington’s made their way across the open killing ground towards the castle walls.. The wicked arrows of the defenders found their way into men who fell calling on Saint Boniface & Saint George to save them, but enough men made it to the slope. Under the cover of Pavaises the Ram party scrambled up the slope and assembled Before the walls. Again, the rocks rained down from above, and guns tore gaping holes in the pioneers but this time they were not to be denied. A veteran of the wars abroad eschewed any need of protection and charged the gate with a large Maul and proceeded to lay into them with great blows. Emboldened by this display of contempt for the defenders, with a great roar from the crowd the ram party charged the walls!

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The killing ground before the walls

With each mighty heave the gates shook. Warwick was forced to commit men from the walls to bolster the gate. Despite this – at last the gates were smashed open with a great crash. The fighting in the gateway was now desperate, as the Harringtons and the Brooke’s fought tooth and nail to gain access to the castle.

Upon seeing this, Warwick tried a desperate gamble – a force of Middletons were sent out from a separate gate and crashed into the attacking force.

Chaos ensued as the attackers attempted to determine the source of this latest horror, and the Brooke’s were wiped out to a man.

On seeing this, Warwick ordered his De Cobham defenders to seize the initiative and try and force the attackers back from the gateway. As Fighting now spread across the plateau just before the walls, the Harringtons were being pushed backwards by weight of numbers. Man after man tumbled back down the slope – much to the delight of the crowds.

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Fighting on the walls

Earl Rivers was now desperate and committed his final remaining men, but it was to no avail. As the Harringtons retreated to the siege camp, Warwick sent a raiding party to set fire to the trebuchet. Upon seeing this, the Lancastrians lost morale and fled for London – leaving the Yorkists in charge of the Castle. Sir William was captured and thrown into the sap whilst he could be ransomed and the show closed to thunderous applause.

After hours, sunday evening saw the Harrington’s host the costumed “Heroes and Villains” party! Mindful of our neighbours and the sleeping kids, we decamped to the Hurst Tower, which was lit up by lanterns and really atmospheric. This tower is hundreds of years old and it was not the first evening do it will have seen, but we hope it was up there with the best.

We are currently awaiting some decent photos as is was too dark for camera phones to capture – however here’s a little taster..

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BAN-NA-NAH!!! hEHEHEHEHEHEHEH. You should see her when she’s purple..

Sadly, after two splendid days of weather, the bank holiday Monday brought wet weather that set in for the day and did not cease. Mindful of this, we worked with English Heritage to adjust the show so that the public still had a great day out. There was an expected drop in participation across the Society as people huddled in tents, but the Harringtons were made of sterner stuff and took to the field to assault the castle once more – though perhaps in less shiny metal than in previous days!! You can see footage from the Monday on the video below, despite the inclement weather we still had a great time.


Highlight of the Monday afternoon was our very own Wibble (it’s a nickname, don’t ask) playing space invaders with the Bayards on the battlements…

All in all, this was a simply amazing event. Not only was it marvellous to be part of a 360 degree siege, it was an incredible visual spectacle for the public. We were informed by one watcher that “I’ve been coming to reenactments for twenty years and I’ve never seen anything like that! Incredible..”

Hopefully English Heritage will agree and invite us back. We’d also like to thank EH for the wonderful facilities, not one single complaint about Toilets which is a first for a bank holiday weekend.

We were also delighted to welcome newcomer Tony H into the camp for the first time and he mucked in – even when raining – which is also appreciated.

There were two additional surprises which were most well received. The first was out great German reenactment friends Bodo and Anja had travelled across from Hamburg to watch our show and hang out with us, it was marvellous to catch up and we hope we can welcome our Continental reenactor friends to another event soon.
The camp was also blessed with a little bit of stardust as New York Times Bestselling Author Tony Lee visited the camp and asked us to help him with his ALS ice bucket challenge. We were delighted to do so and you can watch him getting frozen below.

 

Tony has nominated Kit Harrington among others, Tony and Kit were guests together at San Diego comic con so it will be interesting if Kit accepts the challenge!

 

And now, as autumn draws in it’s time to start the planning for our woodland skirmishes and our banquet..

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