The Siege of Chester: 29th – 31st August 2015

Last weekend we had the most glorious time in the city of Chester, taking part in the society’s biggest event of the year over the August Bank Holiday weekend. It turned out to be a really good one and so nice to have such a big event in a city. We are usually at a more rural location for such events so it made a nice change.

Most of us started arriving on Friday afternoon and after battling bad traffic in all directions, arriving, setting up camp and getting sorted was followed by some much needed relaxation, catching up with those we hadn’t seen again since our event at Beeston. We had a lovely evening and felt excited and ready for the weekend ahead.

Saturday didn’t involve a fight, but we were still kitted up and ready as we were to march to the town as a society as part of the weekend’s events. The march itself had nearly 1000 people taking part and was a fantastic spectacle for both re-enactors and members of the public alike. We were camped south of the river and so marched from our base there, across the Old Dee bridge. The road leading down to this provided a gentle slope meaning as our troops rounded the corner at the top, the column of march spread down in front of them all the way to the bridge and was the most fantastic sight with all the standards raised and drums playing.

We marched over the bridge, along the road next to some of the city walls before entering the city and marching around the centre. There were public lining the route the whole way and the streets in the centre were packed, which was wonderful to see. Marching down the main city street, under the big clock tower and with so many people watching provided such an adrenaline rush for our members, it was truly fantastic.

Newcastles then stayed in the town to partake in one of their favourite pasttimes, finding the local pub! We enjoyed some time together, confusing the locals and bar staff alike as we laid our pikes outside and came in with our muskets and drums in full kit, to take over an area of the pub and get the drinks flowing! We enjoyed the afternoon before heading back to camp to put down our arms and spend the evening relaxing.

Later into the evening it was back into town again for some of us who decided to take a look at more of the local pubs. It was an enjoyable evening for all involved and a great way to spend the evening a ‘lazy’ day as such.

Sunday was the start of things proper and we started to put into practise a tongue in cheek ‘campaign’ some of the regiment had devised to encourage the regiment to get into the habit of more regular training at events and generally bringing the regiment even closer together and more co-herant. We started this by all getting ready for drill on Sunday morning. We had our biggest Pike Block of the season so far with over 20 members including 4 new pikemen giving it a go for the first time. The musket also had a fantastic turn out with more members than usual on the field! The march to the field was long, but made to feel worthwhile by the numbers of people lining the route and we arrived at the Race Course ready and raring to go!

The battle was hard, but very good and both the musket and pike blocks came off happy and pleased with their performances. The pike block knew they had work to do the next day but it was still a very successful day on the field and they were pleased. The musket were able to have a good scrap with plenty of opportunity to use up all of their powder before engaging in some good rounds of hand to hand combat.

We came back to camp feeling tired but very happy and got ready to have yet another birthday party for various members who had important birthdays around the weekend. We as usual provided a bring and share buffet of wonderful food, enjoyed fantastic cake and continued to party into the evening, singing and enjoying ourselves before some of us headed down to the beer tent to catch up with other melmbers of the society and enjoy a particularly good disco into the small hours. All in all a very, very good day.

Monday started with drizzle and it pretty much summed up the mood of the day. We still enjoyed ourselves but as people started to pack down it became a realisation that we were all going home today and were going to miss our friends, the atmosphere and the fun we’d be having all weekend. The battle was harder, we had a few members who couldn’t do both days meaning the pike had a harder battle. The musket still had fun and engaged in some great fire fighting before more hand to hand and did well to keep the shots going in the rain. Once we got back to camp the heavens decided to really open which made packing down in the rain all the more character building! We said our goodbyes and headed back to proper beds and warm showers, whilst still on a high from what turned out to be one of the very best weekends we’d all had in a while.

It wasn’t just the battle hardened regulars though, we were pleased to welcome some new members into our block for the weekend. Father and Son duo Rob and Rob (just to confuse us all!) had been members of the public at our weekend event in Beeston 3 weeks before and really liked what they had seen, they were then given the right paperwork in the time between and came to join us for the weekend. They both joined the pike block for the weekend and enjoyed it so much they are planning to be back again to join us in a couple of months at our annual event at Edgehill in October. They have already asked about how they will join us for the whole year next season too! Rob also bought along his younger son, Haydon who joined us for the Saturday too. At 15 he wasn’t old enough to come onto the field but hopefully he will come and join us next year when he will be able to get into the block with his Dad and Brother.

Both of us were made to feel welcome by everyone. We were a little nervous but we were soon put at ease with some encouragement. I have never met a friendlier bunch of people before, we loved the battle and are hungry for more so Edgehill here we come!- Rob the Elder.

Alyssa also came to join us for the weekend and also got stuck straight into the pike block. Her parents and sister are all members of the regiment and have been for a while, Alyssa decided it was time for her to see what all the fuss was about and joined us in Chester and very much enjoyed the weekend, especially our party on Sunday night and trip to the beer tent. She too has expressed an interest about getting stuck in again soon! Our drummers and water carriers are always keeping an eye on new members when in the pike block and didn’t see Alyssa coming out of the block much at all. The most they saw of her was a brief request for a shoe to be retied whilst grinning from ear to ear before running off to get stuck in again, which was fantastic!

And finally, apprentice brewer David (big plus points to him already for his profession), who comes along to events with his Grandparents, had been absent for a little while but came back to Chester and was now old enough to take to the field. He too got stuck in with the pike and appeared at the end of the day full of enthusiasm! Our Newcastle’s Blog Fairy hasn’t had a chance to catch up with him since, but we expect to see him again next year with his family as he made it clear he had very much enjoyed his time in the block!

It was really nice to see all of our new members enjoying their time with us and to hear such enthusiasm about getting stuck in again very soon! Welcome to the fold, all of you!

So that was the year’s biggest event done and dusted and we now look forward to other events as the season slowly but surely starts to wind down for the winter. We’re going to be off to the Tank Museum in Dorset in a few weeks, to take part in a multi-period event being organised by our friends in Tillier’s Regiment. After that we have a parade at Ripple, Worcestershire to look forward to in October before our final event of the season at Edgehill, at the end of October. Keep an eye out for updates on here about those events and write ups to tell you all about them!

We were featured in a couple of media outlets and have since found videos of the event online, please click the links below to see who’s been talking about us!

An article in The Chester Chronicle.

A write up about the event on local blog The SC Social.

Youtube Video 1

Youtube Video 2

Youtube Video 3

Youtube Video 4

Youtube Video 5

As always, if this post has intrigued you and you think it’s something you’d like to give a try one weekend, head to our Joining Us page to do just that.

Images courtesy of Rusty Aldwinckle, Icnic Images, The Chester Chronicle, Dale Miles and Rena Erasmus.

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