Smaller Events: Basing House, Newark Sconce and The Siege of Sheffield

As well as our bigger events, we’ve been taking part in some of the smaller events that have been happening up and down the country.

These smaller or ‘mini’ musters are a great opportunity to make new friends with other regiments of the society and get involved in even more weekends. They’re good fun and often provide some of the most memorable events in the back catalogue!

The Siege of Basing House

The first of the smaller events we went to this year was back in the middle of April and was held at Basing House in Hampshire. A merry band of 8 pikemen, 3 musketeers and a drummer took part in the event over the course of the weekend and partly thanks to a rather ‘enthusiastic’ evening in the pub on Friday night, a very good time was had by all. The event was organised by Hawkin’s regiment, a southern based regiment that have put this event on for many years and once again it was excellently run and organised for both re-enactors and public.

6 Newcastles and an associated Tillier were there on Friday night and spent the evening in the pub with friends from other regiments to ease ourselves into the weekend. Camping next to the train line provided much amusement for our pike boys as they shouted ‘train’ loudly every time one went past. This got old very quickly for most of the other people on the campsite… they’re easy to amuse, our pike block! It was back to the pub for breakfast on Saturday morning before doing some drill and we had a couple of practise pushes against a willing parliamentarian regiment to blow the winter cobwebs away.

We prepared for battle that afternoon and took to the field along with our tercio comrades of Lisles and Gerards in a tercio block of pike and musket. Our Corporal Chris was given an opportunity to sergeant the block which was great experience for him and all our boys and girls came off the field with big smiles on their faces after a great fight, even if we did have to play Parliament for the weekend to even out numbers! Chris’ sergeanting opportunity didn’t make his head swell too much either!

The evening was spent back in the pub (it was rather chilly in the evenings and this was definitely the reason so much time was spent in the pub, honest!)  and Chris and the associated Tillier hijacked the disco by requesting multiple cheesy pop songs which did have the desired effect of bringing people onto the dancefloor. A great evening of dancing was had by all and we headed back to camp fairly late and in high spirits. Even our CO got involved!

Sunday was spent doing the same again with another great battle, even though we had lost some numbers and overall, it was a great opportunity to venture south for a smaller but perfectly run event. This year for the first time we also did a skirmish through the main barn before the start of the main battle, which was great fun and provided extra entertainment to the public who had as always, shown lots of support for this annual event and turned out in their masses.

Newark Sconce

On 11-12th June the Sealed Knot returned to Newark for a mini muster. Newark is full of English Civil War history, and is home to the National Civil War Centre, a museum dedicated to the 17th century conflicts in the British Isles. One of the remarkable things about Newark is the Queen’s Sconce, Britain’s best preserved earthwork fortification from the English Civil War. Newark was a Royalist stronghold and was besieged three times throughout the wars. The defenses of Newark included two external fortifications, the aforementioned Queen’s sconce, and the now demolished King’s sconce, both built in time for the third siege. The defence of Newark was so good, the siege only ended when Charles I (after surrendering himself to the besieging Scots army to end the war) ordered the town to surrender. The aim of this weekend was to recreate one of the many raids the Royalist defenders made on Parliament’s siege camp, the whole event taking place in the park surrounding the Queen’s sconce.

Many members of the regiment were day-tripping for this event, driving down in the morning then returning home at the end of the day. I got my lift there with the Wrights, and as we drove into the park, I saw a few more members of the regiment turning up and getting ready. We said our hellos, then the musketeers went off to find powder. There was a small Living History section on a flat bit of the park, plastic campsite hidden in a “dip”, with the sconce in the distance. We’d brought a tent with us for the Living History, which was put up rather easily thanks to the new colour-coded labelling system the Wrights had just sorted out on all our tentage. After a short drill display (with not much of an audience), we all wandered off into Newark to find a good pub.

We ended up in the Organ Grinder (signpost is a blue chimpanzee). They do some really nice pork pies, the ones topped with stilton being particularly tasty. We drank some drinks, played some cards, bragged about all the gin the Commercial has (it was international Gin Day apparently, so the pub had a gin festival going on, just not as many as the regimental “local”). Suitably lubricated, we made our way back to the sconce for the battle.

As ever, the Royalist side outnumbered Parliament, even though the event was scripted to have the Cropheads win. In the interest of fairness, Chris and I went turncoat and joined Parliament’s pike block. It was roughly 12 people a side, 6 shot and 6 pike each, and we outnumbered the audience again. We pointed and pushed as best we could with such small numbers. Parliament’s pike won the day (in no small part thanks to Chris and I’s efforts), while muskets on both sides went bang. At one point, Chris and Andrew got to face off in front of a pike push against each other. During the end-of-battle point-of-pike, I wrestled Andrew to the ground and started slapping him on the helmet!

The Royalists routed, their commander caught (I stole his big stick!). An attempt to execute the commander ended in faux-disaster, and the battle ended. After a polite smattering of applause, the dead/lazy rose and we all became friends again.

After the battle, Andrew and I went for a walk up the Queen’s sconce. We contributed to its erosion by walking up the side, just to feel what it would be like to assault it. Hobnailed soles help but the steepness makes it rather tricky, and that’s without enemy soldiers defending it! It’s fascinating to see the earthwork still standing, and it fires the imagination thinking what it would’ve been like back in the day. Nearby signs do a great job of telling you about the sconce and showing you what it looked like (I recommend checking out the model reconstruction in the Civil War Centre Museum too). We returned from the sconce to help pack away the tent, but right then James arrives. He’s late for Saturday’s battle, but takes part the next day instead. The Wrights drove me back home at the end of the day, and I think we headed over to the Commercial for tea. And at that, our day-trip was done.

I enjoyed myself at Newark. Sometimes the smaller musters are more fun: the battles aren’t so strenuous, and you get more of a chance to do other things. For instance, it was nice to walk into town and go to the pub. It also gives you a chance to build up a rapport with other members of the society you might not get to interact with otherwise. Whether it’s blocking in with many different regiments, or talking to members of the regiment running the event, I find there is more camaraderie at minis. Friendship, fun, and beating the snot out of filthy cropheads (err, Royalists in this particular case), what more could you want out of your weekend?

This piece was written by Pikeman Mat Bell.

The Siege of Sheffield

We brave few. On the 18-19 of June we lay siege to Sheffield Castle, or so we told the crowd. A rather compact event comprising of living history tents and some skirmishes.

We arrived in regular fashion to a Sealed knot event, in a small car packed to the brim bursting with helmets, armour and bodies, resulting in the occasional knee in the driver’s back!

Considering the size of the event we had a fairly strong turnout, as once again the Newcastle white coats were easily dominant in numbers, in part due to the strong contingency the regiment has in Sheffield and surrounding areas. Nothing beats the feeling of outnumbering the event organisers!

The close proximity of the event for the regiment made the transportation of cumbersome kit easier meaning to we had could uphold a high standard of living history which we pride ourselves on. Therefore, Tig and Linda had the cookery set up like a small factory, providing food for the hard working soldiers between skirmishes. Lunch (as usual) comprised of breads, cheeses, berries, home-made sausage patties, pork pie and pork all topped of with a few of Tig’s famous drop scones. Graham’s display of gunpowder was easily the most popular living history stand of the weekend with many flocking around to hear him talk through the practical uses of his period kit. Amongst his array of objects were: grenades, weighing scales and a particularly interesting Furttenbach gunpowder tester which made its premiere at this event.

The fight itself was mainly close and personal, with fewer numbers encouraging more hand to hand. Unlike a major battle, it is more difficult to be swallowed up into the ranks at such a small event. Hence, the Siege of Sheffield lent itself to a ‘cameo’ set up, whereby members took up the roles of the key characters in the Siege to dramatic effect. Tragic deaths, heroic sword swinging, and a roaring response despite a somewhat depleted crowd.

Smaller events such as Sheffield are a great opportunity for the Sealed Knot to engage with the public and a fantastic moment for recruitment, if you can find your recruitment cards… Doh!

This post was written by Pikeman James Stonehewer.

As always, if this is something you think you want to get involved in, head to our Joining Us page to see how.

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