Just one of the many re-enactors.

One of the perks of coming to the Festival is seeing all the amazing costumes that the reenactors create! We have more than 25 groups who come and make the weekend so special, from the dramatic jousting to the delicate foods of times long gone.

The costuming is arguably one the of best parts of the festival, and it really shows how fashions change, and how innovations of the time help to shape fashions, along with status, wealth, and location.

I’m going to talk about the SCA in this post, as they have such a broad scope it’s great for a non-re-enactor like me to understand what they’re doing!

The SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) is one of our re-enactment groups coming to the Festival this year, and it’s an international non-profit educational organisation that is dedicated to the research and recreation of pre-17th century European History, with a particular focus on its practical applications in arts and sciences, including costuming, cooking, martial arts, dance, calligraphy and illumination, metalwork, archery and music. They have a broad scope in interests, which means that they can cater to anyone.

They have a huge network of re-enactors, and great resources which are accessible to anyone looking to find more information on their favoured period.

http://sca.org/officers/chatelain/photos/Court2-mil.jpg

http://www.sca.org/officers/media/images/clash_lg.jpg

All the groups at the Festival help create the amazing atmosphere and we really couldn’t do it without them!

I’ve developed a love of the late-14th century, and have started delving into every resource I can to find out everything I can.

For more information on our fabulous re-enactor groups, check out https://abbeymedievalfestival.com/get-involved/visitors/ to find out who is doing your favourite period in history! What and who are you looking forward to seeing?

 

Alfred the Great, Resting in Pieces

Oft revered as ‘the greatest King England ever knew’ and sometimes associated with burnt cakes, King Alfred the Great’s reputation precedes him by a very long way. A learned man, he firmly believed that education and law were essential to leadership and governance, much of which he put into practice by establishing schools and courts. He was also a strategic military thinker who made many successful changes to the systems and structures of his forebears. This year marks the 1124th anniversary of his death on October 26th 899.

His ascension to the throne was not generally expected as he had three older brothers. He succeeded all three and became King of Wessex in April 871. Alfred was an Anglo-Saxon, and helped defend that kingdom when the provinces of Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria had fallen to the Vikings. The turning point for the defenders was the battle of Edington in 879, from whence Alfred began to liberate neighbouring regions that he ruled over as self-titled ‘King of the Anglo-Saxons’.

However, a thousand plus years after his passing, the great king’s remains are in a less than great situation. To be frank, they are strongly believed to be situated in multiple locations somewhere between a car park and a row of Victorian houses in Winchester, mixed up with the skeletal bones of his wife Ealhswith, Queen of Mercia, and son Edward the Elder. This unfortunate situation(s) has arisen from a combination of progress, neglect and downright carelessness over a period spanning 900 years.

King Alfred the Great died at the age of 50 in 899 and was first laid to rest in the Old Minster at Winchester, being moved shortly afterwards to the New Minster. Under the orders of King Henry I in 1109, the monks who resided there were moved to Hyde Abbey and a Normal cathedral was built on the site. Fortunately, the bones of Alfred and his family were moved along with the monks and were reinterred in front of the altar.

Over time, and after the dissolution of the church, Hyde Abbey became a private residence and much of the masonry was taken for use in other buildings. Later, in 1788, Hyde Abbey was renamed Bridewell and became a prison or ‘house of correction’ as they were known. The first inmates were given orders to clear the grounds of rubble and debris, which is when they came across the king’s resting place. In a recent article on the topic, Justin Pollard* wrote about that particular discovery of King Alfred’s grave:

During the work to clear the governor’s garden a warden reported to Captain Howard, an antiquarian, that the high altar had been located and three graves unearthed in front of it. This was not an age of sentiment and the prisoners were apparently unmoved by the discovery of the tombs. They were almost certainly unaware of their occupants. As Howard records, they discovered that Alfred’s tomb was made from a single block of stone encased with lead. The prisoners stripped off the lead and sold it, emptied out the bones and fragments of clothing, then broke up the coffin and reburied it empty

Historians have always been interested but hesitant to start digging where they believe the remains are, as it would cause great disruption for what might be a futile venture. Future archeologists with better equipment and new methods of artefact recovery may be able to turn the odds in favour of finding the monarch and restore him and his family to proper graves. Until then, we can only hope King Alfred the Great is resting in peaceful pieces.

*Justin Pollard is the author of Alfred the Great: the Man who Made England (John Murray, 2005). The article mentioned is “The Dust of Kings” from History Today, Volume: 63 Issue: 4 2013

Fun Medieval Facts!

Here’s a collection of fun facts floating around the internet about medieval times! There’s some funny ones, some gruesome and some that are completely left field crazy!

Leave us a comment or question and we will have our Medieval History experts help you clarify truth from fiction!

  • To brush one’s teeth, burnt rosemary was placed on a cloth and then one would scrub their teeth with it. People desperately tried to keep their teeth since tooth extraction was extremely painful what with no anesthetic and all.
  • People believed that diseases were spread by foul odors.
  • The elements of the Universe were considered to be water, air, fire, and earth. These elements directly corresponded to the body, so the elements were thus linked; phlem-water, blood-air, yellow bile-fire, and earth-black bile. The bodily elements were called humors.
  •  Pilgrimages were more often made to cure ailments than for spiritual fortification.
  • Scientific achievements in Medieval times may seem laughable at times, but the fact is that many commonly used appliances and tools today came from this time period: the pump, the hydrostatic balance, the pendulum, the sector, the thermometer, the telescope, and the lodestone.
  • Medieval alchemy produced very useful concoctions; nitric acid, sodium carbonate, and hydrochloric acid.
  • Water was an unreliable hydration source, so ale was the beverage of both choice and neccesity.
http://faeriemusejo.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/25-odd-facts-about-medieval-times.html
  • The Barber Pole – The peppermint candy cane strip appearance of a barber’s pole dates back to the Middle Ages when most barbers also performed the tasks of surgeons and dentists in their community. The red and white colour scheme actually refers to blood and bandages. In those days, bandages soaked in blood were washed and then hung from a pole outside of the barber’s shop. The wind would cause the bandages to twist, which created the spiral pattern that is still used today.
http://www.unexplainable.net/info-theories/10-interesting-facts-about-medieval-england-part-1.php
  • The famous Battle of Hastings did not take place in Hastings! It was actually waged at Senlac Hill – which is about 6 miles (10km) north-west of Hastings. “The battle at Senlac Hill” certainly doesn’t have the same ring to it as “The Battle of Hastings”!
  • Berengaria of Navarre was the Queen of England by her marriage to King Richard The Lionheart. Little is known of her life – but what is known is that she is the only Queen of England never to step foot in England! The entire time that she was married to Richard, she lived in Europe. In fact, Richard himself only spent about 6 months in England as he was so busy traveling on crusader business.
  • The Middle English term “pygg” referred to a type of clay. In the middle ages, people would often keep coins in jars or pots made of pygg – these were called “pygg jars”. By the 18th century, with the evolution of language, these came to be known as a “pig bank” or “piggy bank”.
  • One bizarre recipe for a medicine to protect against the plague involved drinking ale that has had crushed roasted egg shells, leaves and petals of marigold flowers, and treacle added to it. Needless to say this was not particularly effective.
http://listverse.com/2008/09/30/15-fascinating-facts-about-medieval-england/

What do you think of these? Are there any you want to add to the list or think should be taken off?

Have Abbey Medieval Festival Package….will travel!

Hello readers,

It has been a while since I last posted on this page and I am currently working on the perfect excuse to contact you all again.  Today I’m going to give you a fantastic reason to visit Brisbane this winter.  Today I’m going to tell you all about the ‘Abbey Medieval Festival Travel Package’!

We had a lot of feed back last year that people found it hard to get to regional Brisbane festivals and in particular to our corner of the world for the Abbey Medieval Festival  Your travel arrangements were complicated and you found it difficult to find a place to stay……  simply put..you needed some help!  And yes we recognise while its wonderful to have a medieval festival like this with more than 37,000 visitors, the logistics involved for our visitors were challenging.

So this year, we have the perfect solution for you!

The Abbey Medieval Festival has teamed up with a number of partners to bring you ‘The Abbey Medieval Festival Package’.  Three clicks and your travel is sorted! This package is like a pilll to take away your travel pain!  Flights, accommodation, breakfast, transfers to and from the airport and transfers to and from the festival, all sorted!

Here’s how it works!

Simply click on the link below, complete the form and our awesome ‘Travel Experience Partner’ – Uplift Tours and Travel will contact you within twenty-four hours. (Usually sooner!)

You will see also that the landing page features our two Accommodation Partners.

We present the RendezVous Hotel and Suites and the Econolodge, both based in Brisbane CBD.  These properties are great value and have a great range of rooms and suites allocated for visitors to the Abbey Medieval Festival. Just pick your choice, and Uplift Tours and Travel will arrange the rest.

So this is a perfect solution for all those Abbey Medieval Festival visiting families and traveling groups out there to make life easier.  Give us your travelling challenges and we will make it happen for you!

We look forward to your feedback and we especially look forward to hearing about your travel experience – we know you are going to love this!

Watch out for our posts on Facebook and Twitter!

Abbey Medieval Festival Package

 

 

 

 

The Abbeystowe Field

Now that we’re counting down the weeks left until the Festival, this seems like a great time to show you how serene the Abbeystowe field is for 51.5 weeks of the year! It’s such a beautiful place, and every year we need volunteers like you to help make it the most memorable and incredible event in the southern hemisphere.

Introducing…Lady Carberry!

Introducing a new stallholder at the Festival this year, Lady Carberry! She’s joining one of the Festival favourites, The Peddlar, to bring custom-made medieval garments to you! She’s been making garments for over thirty years, and will be selling a range of items from jewellery, clothing and accessories, medieval-styled homewares and bric-a-brac.

Lady Carberry has been making accessories, clothing, jewellery and homewares for over three decades and custom made medieval clothing for the last ten years, and has gained a reputation for detailed and high-quality workmanship. By using quality fabrics, trims and accessories in conjunction with consultations with each client, Lady Carberry creates beautiful garments which conjure the feelings and atmosphere of a bygone time.

Her love of history, of tales of princesses and knights, began as a child, and she hasn’t lost the wonder that these tales bring. She learnt her skills for sewing from her seamstress mother who taught her the old fashioned way, and guided her through many creations. Being at the Abbey Medieval Festival brings together her two loves, and makes her feel at home, surrounded by so many history buffs and incredible garments.

After her hobbit costumes were seen at the world premiere of The Hobbit (check out the photo with Elijah Wood!), she’s been flooded with requests for custom clothing. And when they’re of such a high standard, who can be surprised! Lady Carberry will still have goodies on sale for you to purchase at the Festival and the Kid’s Day, so make sure to drop on in and have a peek at the skill and love she pours into each item! Check out http://www.facebook.com/LadyCarberryCreations or http://www.ladycarberrycreations.com/ to see more of what she’s done. If you’re seeking advice and wisdom on making your own outfit, she’s always available to help those in need!

Face to Face with History

The remains of King Richard III were found earlier this year after a four year search led by Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society. The king, who reigned for only 2 years, died aged 32 in 1485 the Battle of Bosworth Field where he was defeated by Henry VII. His body lay in an unmarked grave for centuries, beneath what finally became a council car park in Leicester, England.

Shown above facing Michael Ibsen, one of King Richard III’s descendants , his reconstructed visage shows features that appear kind and prominent. The distinctive chin and long nose match the portraits and descriptions of the monarch. Fans of Shakespeare will know Richard the Third as a tyrant with slanted eyes, hunched back and cruel frown, but we are now able to see for ourselves a more accurate effigy lacking the centuries-long stereotyping.

This facial reconstruction of King Richard III was created by scanning and measuring his skull. No ‘hints’ were taken from the various portraits of the king as to the shape and size of his features, which are accurate to within 2mm, as the modellers did not want to be biased by preconceived imagery. Clues towards his skin colour, eyebrows and hair were however drawn from these paintings and historical documents.

While his face might not be as evil as the Tudors painted him, the monarch really did have a curve in his spine which would have given him a hunched appearance, as is evidenced in this photo of Richard III’s skeletal remains taken at Leicester University:

Not every long gone monarch is as ‘easy’ to find as Richard III. The remains of King Alfred, also referred to as Alfred the Great, has had quite a rough time since his burial in 899. But that story is for another post… 😉

 

Good things come in threes, and so do Teutonic Knights…

The identities of three knights found in 2007 in Poland have recently come to light. However, these three men were no ordinary knights, but the grand masters Werner von Orseln, Henrich von Plauen and Ludolf von König Wattzau of the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, better known as Teutonic Knights.

The findings correspond to historical written sources about each of the three grand masters, the characteristic features of the skeletons (build, height, injuries, etc), approximate ages of death and DNA results. It has taken six years for archeologists and historians to verify the remains which were discovered in a crypt under a cathedral in Kwidzyn, Poland.

The crypt is believed to have been part of a smaller church which stood on the site of the current cathedral. Over time some of the coffins were damaged by bricks falling from the hastily built crypt ceiling, and apart from the skull of one knight being found on the floor instead of above his shoulders, their remains were found intact.

The Order was first formed in the Germanic region in the late 1100s to establish hospitals and aid pilgriming Christians on their journeys to and from the Holy Land. During the crusades they came to be known as Teutonic Knights when their order turned military. The word ‘Teuton’ literally means ‘German ‘.

While the Order has gone through significant upheaval, losses, gains and wars since it’s establishment over 800 years ago, it still exists today as a charitable organisation working across Central Europe. Their motto, “Help, Defend, Heal” appears to have come full circle.

The first cotehardie for the Festival!

I’ve started on my cotehardies! I’ve decided on a bright red, forest green and navy blue, and I’ll be writing all about them as I make them. I chose these colours as our medieval forebears didn’t do pastel colours (or grey or brown very often apparently), and they only used bright and strong colours. Look away now re-enactors! I’m cheating (only a little!) and using a commercial pattern, I know that it’s not historically accurate but I want to help people get into the groove of things and to be able to enjoy the Festival as much as possible. (Ok re-enactors you can look again now!)

The red dress is finished, and has ended up a size 10-14, 14th century clothing didn’t generally fit exactly to the wearers body -hence the range of sizes it can fit.

It’s a very strong colour – I think I’ve fallen in love with it – and now that I’ve finished the dress I can make a start on the tippets and belt to help pull it together so that you’ll be looking fabulous at the Festival. I’ve even overlocked the seams to help prevent fraying, because you don’t want to be getting a substandard dress now, do you!

I was amazed to find though, that the 100m spool of thread only had a few metres left by the time I finished! There’s an amazing 50m of seams in the dress!

There will be a big reveal of all the dresses when they’re finished, all you’ll get now are sneak peeks!

Do you like the idea of being able to buy a full costume for the Festival?

The Quest to Find a Dress.

I’ve discovered, in my trawling through the internet to find good costuming sources, a fabulous book called the ‘Medieval Tailors Assistant’ by Sarah Thursfield and I love it! It’s the first source I’ve found which lays out when what item was worn, where and how and who. There’s also how to hand sew or machine sew, what fabrics to use, how to make a personal block to make your costumes more accurate – how they would have been made back between 1200-1500.

PS the cheapest place I’ve found it is an Australian site, BookWorld with free postage and a great price!

Along with shoes, head wear, hose and children’s clothing. So now I can finally work out what to do with my hair for the Festival! Because ladies – you know how hard hair can be to control these days, let alone trying to figure out what would have been class-appropriate and time-appropriate. But I gotta say, the women back then wore some crazy things on their heads.

The Cross Tree C.1399 -1422

 

http://www.kats-hats.co.uk/images/crosstree2.jpg

Although I do think the Crispinette is rather lady-like and elegant.

The Crispinette C. 1300 – 1500

 

What do you think of these? What is the craziest headwear you’ve seen?

-Angela

On books and new bloggers.

I’m excited! This is my very first blog for the Abbey Festival, so I think I should tell you a little bit about me, and why I’m here. I’m a recent graphic design/advertising graduate, and have a passion for history, typography, reading and (recently rediscovered) sewing! I’ve volunteered at the Museum because it’s my way of helping out, and the Festival is such an incredible event I couldn’t resist watching it come to life.

Now for the actual blog, instead of a blurb about me. I’ve decided to re-read the Tudor series by Phillippa Gregory, and still find myself spellbound by her writing. Whilst they may not be completely accurate historically or may portray people differently to how they were, Gregory is an amazing writer and can draw you deep into the world centred around Henry VIII and his court. It’s intriguing how after all these centuries we can make reasonably (or totally outlandish) guesses on how they behaved, what was said, who climbed over who to make it to the throne. We can never be totally sure that the records left behind are accurate, because the victors are the ones who write history. Taking these books as a semi-fiction work, based on real characters, means they are much more enjoyable then worrying about who said what or behaved how.

Reading such engrossing stories should be done in paperback, rather than as I’ve done on an e-book reader. Because the silly things go flat and there’s nothing to be done! What’s your favourite historical book?

OUR VOLUNTEERS – Heros of the Day

Every year the most amazing people come forward to volunteer as part the team for the Abbey Medieval Tournament and it is their involvement that makes this Festival the internationally-renowned event that it is today.

The numbers of volunteers required each year continues to grow with the 2012 event looking for over 200 helpers.  Many will be repeat helpers but we are always looking for fantastic people to come and join us, to be involved in an historic way of life for a weekend, to help our 25,000 visitors experience such an eye-opening weekend – to see how rope and furniture was made, to taste food and drinks of the day, to ‘oohh’ at the jousting and to ‘aahh’ at the Birds of Prey.

To volunteer, just complete our Online Volunteer Form and your information will come straight through to us, the Volunteer Co-ordinators,  and we’ll be in touch!!

Roles range from helping people at the gate, serving at the Banquet and being involved in the Kids Festival the week before.  You’ll even get a great costume to wear to help you feel like you’re really part of this ‘wiiiillld’ weekend experience.

Now that it is the New Year we are getting into the swing of things.  The logistics of sourcing 200+ people, allocating roles, finding food to feed the team (it might be a loaves & fishes type-meal!!  We’re hoping for the forever-filling baskets to come forward as budget is preeeeety tight!!) – all this seems pretty daunting at the moment but I’m sure Chrystle and I, as the volunteer co-ordinator team, will find ways and means to make this an unforgettable weekend (in the best possible way!!) for you all

……

Wishing all our past volunteers a wonderful 2012 and the same to any future volunteers out there reading our new post!!