Last weekend, the regiment headed out for the first of two events we are taking part in at English Heritage properties this year. As the hosts, we had a lot to do but it was a great weekend and we had lots of fun.
With the help of our friends in Lisles regiment, De Gommes reigment and some people from the Kings Guard and Houghtons regiments, we had a great weekend enjoying some fantastic public engagment and some more light-hearted battling at the beautiful Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Gardens in Warwickshire.
The majority of the regiment arrived on Saturday afternoon and we spent the late afternoon and early evening setting up the authentic camp that we’d be spending most of the following two days in. It was all hands on deck as we erected 8 tents of various sizes and our shelter. Once the tents were up, we added all the extras such as barrels, carts, cooking ranges, tables, chairs, musical instruments and armour to provide the public with lots to look at when they came visiting the camp. We had a great spot inside the castle just opposite the beautiful old stables building which is now the café.
Once the hard work was done, we headed to town for food and drink and had a wonderful evening at The Virgin and Castle, taking over the beer garden and enjoying a night of merriment. As the evening drew on we headed back to camp and continued the evening round the fire before retreating to a caravan until the early hours. Eventually, quiet fell amongst the camp and we got some rest before the start of the main days.
On Sunday morning we awoke, some brigther eyed and bushier tailed than others, ready for a rehearsal of the day taking place on the battlefield. English Heritage events are a little different to those we usually do with 3 skirmishes throughout the day rather than one main battle. These skirmishes are often a lot more dramatic and scripted than our normal battles so it was important we all knew what we were doing with the extra pyrotechnics and props we had to play with this weekend. Newcasltes regiment were the defendants and had a platform built behind the wall of the castle that was positioned along the back edge of the battlefield. We’d be spending time both fighting from the platform and coming out through the gate onto the field itself.
Lisles Regiment played a very sporting opposition under the command of Lord Brooke and were stationed outside the walls, besieging us inside the castle. They also had hand grenades and ladders to play with this weekend which bought some comedic moments to the event.
Once the walkthrough was complete, we set ourselves up in camp for the day and everyone got stuck in with something, whether it was helping to prepare the lunch or showing the public how the weapons worked, talking about the kit we were wearing and letting kids (of all ages!!) try on helmets, armour and pose for photos.
We headed across to the gate and platform for the first skirmish and after Colonel Davies and Lord Brook had partaken in a lunch that got violent and resulted in Lord Brook’s cook being shot (!!), the regiment’s pike enjoyed some engagement with the Lisles boys outside the gate before running to shut them out! The musketeers enjoyed their first taste of firing from the platform over the walls of the castle and the skirmish was brought to an end when the gates were closed on Lord Brook’s forces.
We headed back to camp for another couple of hours of engagement and enjoyed talking to people about why we love doing this fab hobby before heading back to the battlefield for siege number 2.
This time, the majority of the regiment were up on the platform together and after Lord Brook and Colonel Davies exchanged heated words, both sides resorted to dirty tactics to try and gain the upper hand. Lisles started with firing their cannon at the walls which was backed up with some extra pyrotechnics at the base of the wall sparking some gasps, ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the crowd before starting on their hand grenades, again with some fab pyrotechnics provided by our friends in De Gommes.
Their next attempt to attack the walls was with scaling ladders and after a failed attempt first time with ladders that were too short, the Lisles boys got longer ladders and started to climb up before we used halberds and pikes to push the ladders back away from the wall.
It was our turn to strike back as we sent smoking barrels rolling down the hill into the Lisles forces who had to desperately try to put them out before they exploded. The comedy of all of this kept the public engaged and cheering for both sides, making it lots of fun for us taking part. As the barrels distracted the Lisles troops, some more of our boys snuck out of the sally port gate and round to their tents and powder store, blowing the whole lot up with an almighty boom!
To cement us having the upper hand at this stage, we got to throw boulders down on the troops below before some rallying cries of temporary victory from the top of the walls.
After the second siege we headed back to camp for one of the very best parts of the day, lunch time! The ladies of the reigment had been busy all morning prepping and cooking a fantastic spread for the whole regiment to tuck into. There were meats, cheese, bread, pottage (a vegetable stew), chutneys, drop scones, pease pudding, picallily, eggs and fruit and it was, as always, a truly wonderful meal. Being on camp together all day means we really get to spend lots of time together outside of fighting and sitting round eating lunch together really brings us together in the middle of the day. There were lots of jealous looks from the public too, who said they would have liked to tuck in too!
After lunch we got ready for skirmish 3 and the drill display that we were doing just beforehad and marched back to the battlefield. It was our turn to take part in the drill display, allowing the public to see in close detail the movements we have to go thorugh to fight with the pikes and muskets we’re equipped with. The pikemen lined up around the edge of the arena and displayed the various movements required to effectively weald a pike. After this, it was the turn of the musketeers who started of with a volley of shot, to qhich all the pikeman died providing another giggle for the public.
The musket too then spread round the arena and went through the procedure of firing a musket step by step, to allow people to see just how it works. Once they’d done this and fired, it was time for a fastest firer competition which was won by the lovely Debbie.
After the musketeers had made their way back to the middle of the field, it was time for the drums and colours to display their arms to round off the display before we all headed back behind the castle walls to get ready for final skirmish.
Much as we fought valiantly in the final skirmish and came out to try and defend the caslte, unfortunately we were to not fare well in this final part and mostly got killed off by Lisles pike. On the first day, the few that survived ran round to the sally port gate to escape back into the caslt,e but on seeing the 3 ft step up back into the castle, a fair few of us wish we’d played dead all along!
At the end of the engagement, a few of us came back out to surrender the castle to Lord Brook’s forces before the applause of the audience raised the dead and both regiments marched towards the public one last time to show our appreciation for their turnout.
At the end of the engagement, we headed back to our camp for the final couple of hours until the castle closed for the evening and we packed camp up for the night before heading back to the 21st century camp for another evening of merriment. A significant number of the party headed back to the pub for the evening and enjoyed a night of confusing the locals in our ‘funny clothes’ and joining in with some singing with Lisles regiment before heading back to camp to try and carry on the party whilst avoiding the rain.
Monday morning came and, as the merriment had been a little less enthusiastic than the Saturday night, we made it to the camp again looking a little more awake than the previous morning. We set up ready for the arrival of the public and embarked on day 2 in largley the same manor as the day before. We had a whole new audience willing to learn more about our era of history and get stuck in with trying on armour, seeing how the weapons worked and watching what cooking, sewing and other domestic tasks were happening around the camp and watching us relax and enjoy our time in the camp.
We enjoyed the 3 skirmishes again which all went largely without a hitch and Debbie yet again won the fastes firer competition in our drill display before the final skirmish. After the last of the public headed home, it was time for all hands on deck again as we packed down the authentic camp together and loaded the van before heading back to the campsite to pack our own tents and caravans away at the end of another great events.
As a regiment we’d like to thank English Heritage for letting us come and play, Lisles regiment for coming out to play, providing an excellent opposition and those who took on main parts and learnt lines to really bring the skirmishes to life, including the Lord General of the Royalist Army who came along to take on the role of Colonel Davies and lead us in defending the castle.
Overall, a good weekend was had by all and we’ve received good feedback already from the organisers and public alike, letting us know that we were able to put on a good show for everyone.
So that’s it for a few months before we start grenade-throwing, ladder-climbing and camp-torching again when we repay the favour to Lisles regiment at their event at Helmsley Castle, Yorkshire in the summer.
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