Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

   First off, some history: The war of the roses was fought in the 15th century 1455 – 1485 between the Houses of Lancaster and York (the roses part of the name comes from the fact that the Lancastrians’s emblem was a red rose while the Yorkists’s insignia was a white rose).
   The final deciding battle took place in May 1471 in the town (at the time village) of Tewkesbury which stands at the point where the rivers Avon and Severn meet. The battle was here because the Lancastrian army was trying to cross the Severn to reach Wales where they had hopes of allies to join them against the Yorkists. The battle took place on a meadow near Tewkesbury Abbey, known since that day as Bloody Meadow. The Yorkists won the battle, led by the King Edward IV and his brother Richard Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III).

The re-enactors prepare for battle!
   Now on to the fun stuff! Every year in July the battle is re-enacted at the original location with re-enactors, historians, enthusiasts and tourists from around the world, in the largest medieval festival in Europe. The normally empty meadow is transformed into a 15th Century battle camp with tents, banners, soldiers, knights and men-at-arms. 

The battle is re-enacted twice over the course of the two day festival, ending each time at the Abbey- where the defeated Lancastrians had sought Sanctuary-which was stormed by the Yorkists to arrest the leaders of the Lancastrian army.
  For the two days of the festival, and the weeks leading up to it, the town of Tewkesbury proudly shows off its history. All the shops in down the High Street and other main roads hang the colours and coats of arms of the various lords who fought in the battle, they also change their window displays to reflect the medieval mood, with beautiful costumes replacing the usual jeans and t-shirt combination in clothes stores and bookshops highlight books of local history over the latest bestsellers.

The Merchant House and Shop in the Abbey Cottages.
   One of the black and white timber-framed Tudor buildings near the Abbey is opened up as a working merchant’s house and shop and the ‘merchant’s wife’ gives regular tours, explaining what life would have been like for the family living and working in the space at the time. The food would have been cooked over the fire in the kitchen/living space (and here’s us thinking we invented open plan living!) using herbs and as many vegetables as could be grown in the garden. The herbs would have also been used in making simple household remedies as an apothecary would have been an expensive luxury for everyday ailments.


Here are some more pictures from the first day of this year’s festival.

FalafelandChips with a BowandArrow!
Ye Olde Medieval Advertising! 
 I Don't Think I Need to Explain Why I Took This One!

A Selection of Helmets

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