Have at thee, varlet!

A couple of weekends ago, we stepped back in time here at the Sanctuary to host another popular Mediaeval weekend as we welcomed the Black Knights Historical group back to Stonham to work their magic.

Foregathering
The Black Knight Historical Group girding their loins before the fray

Ian Pycroft and his team arrived on the Thursday afternoon to start setting up their extensive camp, whilst (once again) our typical English summer weather threatened to turn the brightly-coloured selection of tents & awnings into something that resembled a muddy Glastonbury campsite, but fortunately good luck prevailed and the weather turned in our favour, so a good and fairly dry weekend was enjoyed by all our visitors.

Preparing-for-Battle
Battling Knights are always popular - here they are preparing to 'Have At Thee!'

The weekend entailed many activities and aspects of Mediaeval life, including archery displays, battle re-enactments & yeomanry tactics, minstrels, dancing and cooking-and-tasting demonstrations, whilst the in-camp workshops included coin striking and learning how to make chain mail armour. As falconry was an important part of life in the Middle Ages, what we do here at the centre slotted in nicely with the other activities over the weekend and our flying displays and commentary rounded out the event in a meaningful way.

In-The-Encampent
The importance & ongoing relevance of heraldry was explained to all

This year, for the first time we held a separate Mediaeval "Schools" day on the Friday, and two local schools turned up in force to experience and learn about life in the Middle Ages. Various special workshops were constructed for them to take part in, including forming a troop of yeomen and judging by the sounds of the words “awesome” and “excellent” as the children made their way out of the centre, a good day was had by all!


Knead-a-hand
Knead a hand? The culinary arts were demonstrated with gusto!

One of the teachers accompanying a group had these kind words to say about the event: “We were delighted with the Mediaeval Day and with the birds of prey demonstration. The pupils had a great time. The Black Knight people were superb and really captured the interest of the students. Most importantly all of our students left having learned and seen things they had not known or experienced before”

We'll be holding the event again next year, so watch this space and don't miss out on a very interesting day. And thanks, Black Knights, for your creative work and involvement with our visitors - much appreciated!

Mediaeval Fact of the Day…
The Dukes of St Albans have held the title of Hereditary Grand Falconer since 1684, which is a title which is still held by the incumbent today as it passes down the male line of the family.