This event was run by English Heritage and didn’t involve the whole society. Instead ourselves and Lisle’s Regiment from The Sealed Knot were joined by Winchester’s and Fairfax’s regiments of the English Civil WarSociety.
Once or twice a year Newcastle’s take on events like this, where we can set up a big ‘Living History’ authentic camp open to the public allowing us to demonstrate as a regiment not just the battle, but what life itself was like in the 17th Century.
For the purposes of this weekend we were playing the troops of Captain Thomas Sandford, who was sieged inside the castle for over a year with his Royalist forces. Lisle’s, Winchester’s and Fairfax’s made up the parliamentary forces under the control of Sir William Brereton, who were camped outside the castle, trying to attack it’s defences and persuade the Royalists to surrender.
The castle itself is up on the top of a crag, in the middle of the Cheshire Plain, with a Gatehouse, now the public entrance/ ticket office down by the road. Near the ticket office was a green space where the two camps and the battlefield were set out, meaning we were behind some hurdles and gabions that had been constructed to represent the castle.
We took part in 3 small skirmishes throughout the day lasting approximately half an hour each and the roles of Thomas Sandford and William Brereton were played by professional actors. The scenes of the skirmishes were more dramatised than we are usually used to with lots of dialogue between the two leading men but it worked really well and the public were gripped by the action at every point in the story.
When the sieges were not going on, our camp was opened up to allow the public to come in and have a look around. They got to watch the ladies who were cooking the regimental meal we had each afternoon as well as some other ladies who were doing traditional past times such as mending, spinning wool or making braid.
All the soldiers were on hand to answer questions and demonstrate how muskets work, allowing the public a good, up close look at the mechanisms and technologies of the time. Our resident musician Nick had various instruments on show and children were able to get stuck in, if they wanted, having a go at drumming or helping some of the younger ladies to make butter. All in all the event was a real success and proved very popular with the public on both days.
From a social point of view, Friday was spent catching up in the campsite with everyone as they arrived and then on Saturday evening once the castle was closed, the regiment made its way to a nearby pub for some drinks and dinner. After this we headed back to the campsite to join the rest of the re-enactors who had set up 3 brilliant fires for the evening in the Parliamentary camp.
We sung songs and different regiments taught the rest various songs from our own repertoires and the evening was full of merriment, port, great fires and a genearlly fantastic atmosphere for people of all ages.
The star of the weekend though was baby Dexter, who at 3 and half months old was an instant hit in the Royalist camp in his authentic outfit. Mum Ellie was happy to see that even with explosions of pyrotechnics going off in the camp, Dexter wasn’t bothered in the slightest and slept through it all! Signs of a good re-enactor baby!
Overall it was a fantastic weekend and we look forward to doing more events like this in the future. They’re hard work but the whole regiment gets to pull together and have a wonderful time relaxing in the camp!
If this post has intrigued you and you think this is something that you would like to give a try one weekend, as always you can head to our Joining Us page to find out how to do just that.
Images courtesy of Paul Kneller, Roma Webb and Beth Knight