Archive for category Events
Report by Special Guest Reporter ‘Who’sthatgirlit’sJess!”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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..
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..
This bank holiday weekend see’s the Companye besieging the mighty Dover Castle – the Guardian of England – with the Medieval Siege Society. If you’d like to know what’s going on then the timings are below (MSS Activities in bold):
(All activities to take place on the green in front of the Great Tower unless otherwise stated)
10.30am Medieval merriment with musicians with Blast from the Past
11.00am The Siege is Set – Gunners and archers shoot from the battlement
11:30am Kiddies Bil Drill – Recruit the locals
11:30am Join Zooted for danger, skill and laughs a plenty in their Jester Show (located at Peverell’s Lawn)
12:00pm Skirmish – A messenger is captured! Gunners shoot from the battlements, work on the sap
12.30pm More musical delight with medieval minstrels, Blast from the Past
1:00pm Archery duel at the Butts / Champions on the Green
1.30pm Join Zooted for danger, skill and laughs a plenty in their Jester Show (located at Peverell’s Lawn, no.X on map)
2.00pm Sappers in Action
2:30pm Muster for main Battle
3:00 Main battle – gunners, archery, MAA, a battering ram and the burning of the treb
4.30pm Your last chance to listen to the sweet sounds of Blast from the Past
5:00pm Event Ends
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?
Kenilworth Castle is a favourite site for the Companye – not only is it one of the best castles left in the entire country, we get to camp in the inner Bailey and its a magical experience.
As per last year, the July event was centered around English Heritage’s four man elite jousting team – with the Harrington Companye providing other displays.
As well as our award winning living history encampment, English Heritage were so impressed with our arena display back in April that they explicitly asked us to re-stage it – and it was given as much billing on the day as the Jousting superstars.
Each display consisted of a whistle stop action packed tour of medieval weapons and armour – barely giving the audience and participants pause for breath.
We started by showcasing the fearsome longbow. Well, I say showcasing – during one shoot off every single archer (some of them national champions!) managed to miss the target! Much hilarity ensued, and of course the men at arms were sympathetic to their plight.
After the missile firepower, we took a quick look at the armour of the period – from the expensive full harness of a Knight, down to the basic linen protection of a retained man at arms. Having shown the public what to expect, we then proceeded to some competitive circles of Honour, and treachery.
Following this, we brought both sides of the display together, the men at arms advancing under arrow shot towards a body of archers – in order to see what they could do.
Now, the moral of this story is that if you are foolish enough to do this sort of thing, then you should probably wear some codling protection. Even better advice, is that if you can’t find your cricket box, lending your maille skirt to someone else is an even more ill advised affair.
So, for you edification and delight – we present Lord Harrington getting shot in an interesting place. Apparently, he was not hit in the testicles, as by a lucky chance his John Thomas got in the way. Most lucky!
Lastly, the kids were invited in to have a go at hand to hand combat with our men at arms. This was a vicious affair, with the men at arms dropping quicker than a Brazilian in a penalty area! Having worn the kids out they left happy for the day and we had some thanks from some grateful parents.
After hours activity was a more chilled affair than in previous years, but songs were sung, and combat recounted. Watching the sun set quietly over the battlements of such a historic site and having it all to yourself is part of why we do this amazing hobby.
Thanks to the English Heritage events team – the Kenilworth crowd are always great and pleased to see us.
Roll on next year!
With thanks to Matt Crosby for the photos.
This weekend sees the Companye return to the Splendid Kenilworth Castle. Don’t miss us!
As well as our usual living history camp, we will be undertaking the displays below (in bold).
Timings for Saturday and Sunday
10:30am Medieval Music with Blast from the Past (Elizabethan Garden)
11:00am Weapons and Armour of the Fifteenth Century (Castle Arena)
11:30am Meet the Fool (in front of Falconry Arena)
11:30am Arming the Knights (Knights Encampment)
12:00pm Medieval Falconry Display (Falconry Arena)
12:30pm The Grand Medieval Joust (Joust Arena)
1:00pm Children’s Battle (Castle Arena)
1-00 pm Harrington Camp Food served on Saturday – Camp closed during this time
1:30pm Meet the Fool (in front of Falconry Arena)
2:00pm Medieval Music with Blast from the Past (Elizabethan Garden)
2:30pm The Arming of the Knights (Knights Encampment)
2:30pm Meet the Fool (in front of Falconry Arena)
3:00pm Medieval Falconry Display (Falconry Arena)
3:30pm The Grand Medieval Joust (Joust Arena)
4:00pm Weapons and Armour of the Fifteenth Century (Castle Arena)