After the success of our event at Kenilworth Castle in May, and to repay the favour that our friends in Lisles regiment had done by coming to help out again and play our enemy once more, it was time for Newcastle’s to come and do their bit at Lisle’s own event at Helmsley Castle in North Yorkshire and what an excellent weekend it was!
On Friday afternoon, a merry bunch had convoyed all the Living History equipment up from Sheffield and arrived at the beautiful Helmsley castle. Set just a stones throw from the picturesque village, it was a wonderful setting for the weekend. Access to the castle was somewhat questionable so getting our kit inside to set up our camp as the besieged troops was interesting but with a few pairs of hands and some grit and determination, we got everything in and set up our range of tents and items to get a great authentic camp set up in the corner of the castle itself.
After a great curry and a few drinks at a good pub, we headed to bed; some of us having the opportunity to sleep in our living history camp too which is always quite cool in a setting such as this. We awoke on Saturday morning to ok weather and a rather fab place to sit and eat breakfast in!
After the walkthrough for the event, mostly going over the specifics to this site as we were broadly following the same format as all our English Heritage events, we got the camp set up and ready to open to the public.
11 o’clock rolled around and we we marched out of the castle to the gabion that had been set up for use in the displays and got ready for the first battle. As always, these fun skirmishes are a little different to what we usually do and we got to enjoy all the extra stuff we get to throw around and a more individual fight against our friends in Lisles, who were temporarily our enemy. We were also joined by some friends from Godolphins regiment and our friendly Scot Mark (who’s actually from Redditch…) for the weekend and it was great to have them join us for the event.
At the end of the skirmish we retreated back to the safety of the castle and enjoyed an hour or so of engagement with the public who were exploring our camp. We had lots of people come to the event and so it was great to get talking to those who were there, showing them the costumes and weapons we use and telling them more about what life in the 17th Century was like.
Before we knew it, 1 o’clock was approaching and it was time for another go at the enemy, hopefully seeing them off this time!
During this skirmish, we had things such as smoking barrels, grenades (being thrown at us, boo!) and exploding tents so it was definitely one to watch and a real crowd pleaser! We also had another opportunity to come out from behind the gabion and attack again, hopefully this time being successful!
Unfortunately our efforts were’t fully successful so we retreated back to the castle for more interaction with the public and an incredible camp lunch! The ladies had been working hard all morning to prepare a great spread (some of them doing this in between quick changes from their female kit to male kit for the fighting and back again afterwards!) that was devoured by the regiment.
After lunch, it was time for the final assault and we went out once again to meet the enemy in a dramatic final skirmish. Sadly, it didn’t end well and in the end we had to surrender the castle to Parliamentary forces, but at least we can say we’d given it a good go to keep hold of it!
The rest of the afternoon was spent talking to the ever keen public who were still visiting the camps at the end of the day before the castle closed for the day. Once the castle had closed for the evening, our two drummer girls decided to head down to the large, echo-y cellar they’d been eyeing up all day that was down the steps right next to our camp and had a little bit of fun…The sound echoed around the castle and was very evocative, so much so that they spent Sunday doing something similar before each battle with the public coming down to listen and the drummer girls certainly enjoyed being able to make so much noise!
We then got ourselves some dinner before heading back to town and taking over the local micro-brewery.
Some of the local townspeople who hadn’t seen us at the castle during the day were a little surprised when both regiments came down, approximately at the same time. With the vast majority of us being in kit, 70 or so people in 17th century clothing probably wasn’t what they were expecting to see in their pretty little village on a Saturday night!
We moved on from the Brewery back to The Feathers, the pub we’d been in the night before and enjoyed the evening chatting to our friends and the locals alike. We then rounded the evening off in true regimental style, sat around the fire in our camp singing songs in what has to be, a pretty excellent way to spend the early hours of a Sunday morning! There’s something about being in the camp, in the heart of a castle late at night that makes this hobby extra special.
Sunday morning dawned with a perfectly blue sky and with no walkthrough to attend this time, we enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the camp before getting ready for what we thought would be a busier day in terms of numbers of public.
Our predictions weren’t wrong and nearly 1000 people came through the castle gates to the event on the Sunday and we once again enjoyed engaging with them around camp and skirmishing again with Lisles who’d been camped outside the castle walls where the arena was.
After another fab day of skirmishing in glorious sunshine, it was time to navigate the logistical challenges of getting all the kit back out of the castle but many hands made light work and we left the castle during a beautiful sunset, ready to head back to North Yorkshire only a couple of weeks after for our biggest event of the year at Scampston Hall.
Head to our Joining Us page to find out how you could be coming along to fight in our next event.
All photos by Rusty Aldwinkcle and Beth Knight.