It looks like the global pandemic is slowly starting to fall behind us and the Sealed Knot was back all guns blazing (quite literally!)
Our regiment (Newcastle’s Regiment of Foote) have attended various events over the last few years but nothing on the scale of a full size August Bank Holiday Muster and we were excited.
We packed up our cars, tents, caravans, campervans and minivans, sallied forth to Compton Verney, and arrived at a masterfully organised event by Skippon’s Regiment.
Day 1 – Friday Evening
Ellie and I arrived in semi darkness at 9pm (we had decided to book Tuesday off, not the Friday – SMART) Thankfully we have very obliging (retired) parents who arrived earlier in the day and kindly put up our tents and had dinner on the table ready and waiting. The sky was clear, the stars were shining bright and we knew we were in for a treat!
First things first I hit the beer tent – the only place to find the majority of the regiment after 8pm. Having been conspicuous in my absence since August Bank Holiday 2018 due to various commitments, I was slightly apprehensive.
Obviously, being part of Newcastles, it might as well have been yesterday since I saw everyone and the welcome I received was second to none.
I was back with my family and any niggling doubts I may have had were completely gone by the time I had finished my first pint of Bath Gem from the superb Stagger Inn.
This applies not only to our Regiment but the Newcastles Tercio as a whole. In my obviously very unbiased opinion, we are the friendliest bunch around!
Day 2 – Saturday
There was no battle on Saturday due to the Society AGM, we pulled ourselves together at a godforsaken hour to trudge to the Beer Tent and relieve our hangovers with copious amounts of coffee and hash browns, while trying to pay attention to a meeting for an hour.
After a (long) afternoon nap it was drill time.
After a 4 year absence a majority of the commands came back to me, however, even now differentiating between ranks & files and right & left still remain a complete mystery. Thankfully, there were a few fresh recruits and I wasn’t the only rusty one, so after 20 mins of going back to basics we got to the “pack in” stage of pike drill.
For those of you who haven’t experienced a pike push, imagine a rugby scrum with approximately 15/16 people on each side holding 16 foot sticks.
The object is not to protect a ball but to gain ground. This is done by quite literally ramming your opponents with as much strength as you can find!
The ranks are important, the front rank have to be superhumanly strong to hold up the rest of the block and stop the whole thing collapsing before we had even hit our opponents but also agile and flexible to get down low underneath the opposing side to lift them off their feet, making the block weaker and easier for us to move.
The second rank have to be just as strong as they hold up the front rank and push them forwards into the enemy.
The middle ranks add weight and strength, and the back few ranks provide the “drive”.
It was magical! We finished drill on a real high. We were tight and the drive from behind was of a quality we had hereto only dreamed about!
WE WERE READY!
Now for an early night ready for the big day…………HA IMAGINE.
I definitely contributed a few pounds to the Beer Tent’s profits. Then, after a sing-song in Tig’s awning, I decided it wasn’t bedtime and after Morgaine from Gerard’s provided us with a beautiful song I happily followed her to their campfire to carry on the drinking & singing.
It was well south of 12am when I staggered back to my tent!
Day 3 – Sunday – Battle Day 1
The day dawned and the sun was shining.
The battle times were earlier due to weddings at the big house, musket had to draw powder at 9am, luckily being a pikeman, we had an extra hour in bed.
After a bacon sandwich to try and stave off the dawning hangover, I climbed into my breeches and white coat, found my pike and off we went.
The Newcastles Regiment of Foote had not been formed when the battle of Edgehill occurred, so we didn’t have our blue Scotch Bonnets, but the Musket block made up for it with a wide variety of splendid hats!
After the naughty Parliamentarian Cavalry had stolen the King’s standard along with his standard bearer’s hand (as happened in the real battle – although it was recovered from the field by the Royalists) we got going.
We were on fire, we won a majority of the pushes and even our block commander didn’t have many comments in the after battle team talk.
The only casualties were my shoe and my pike, and a mild vomit as the hangover crept in on the last few pushes!
After a nap, some camp fun with the younger generation and some chilli, we headed back to the beer tent and we broadly repeated the events of the previous evening although I was in bed by the much more reasonable time of 1am!
Day 4 – Monday – Battle Day 2
I woke up much more refreshed and with even more enthusiasm, still on a high after the successes from the previous day.
I meandered down to watch my dad and Dan practicing their sword fighting skills, and I took in the views of the house and the bridge which were amazing.
I even caught some of the newer musketeers practicing their live firing.
Shortly after, armed with a new pair of latchets and some fresh socks, off we marched down the big hill for the second day.
I didn’t think it would be possible, but we outdid ourselves on the second day. Even tired and flagging after 2 days of battle against some very strong blocks (Ballards – we salute you gentlemen!) we kept it together and again came out the victors of many pushes (although we did slightly more ring-a-ring-a-roses than the day before).
Off back up the big hill we dragged ourselves, with the Beer Tent shining its warm beery light from the top to be rewarded by a nice cold ale.
Then all too soon it was over.
We all begrudgingly packed up our cars, tents, caravans, campervans and minivans to begin the journey home.
After allowing 7 million hours to say goodbye to everyone we were finally on our way.
My remaining words are this:
WHAT A BELTING WAY TO END THE SEASON I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING OLD FACES AND NEW IN THE YEAR AHEAD!
By Alan – Pikeman, His Excellency The Marquess of Newcastle’s Regiment of Foote
(Photos courtesy of Kim Rickard)