Meet the Reenactor Groups 2016




Historia Germanica is a reenactment group based in Queensland, that represents the camp life of a 16th century Landsknetch group. They are a small group representing a gun crew, and they wear and make all their own amazing and authentic costumes and gear, from the early Renaissance time period. This group have 3 cannons which they have fired yearly at The Abbey Medieval Festival, this being a greatly anticipated part of the Festival.

After participating at the Abbey Medieval Festival for many years, 2016 marks the last year you will see Historia Germanica, they are retiring! But fear not, the gun will be back next year in the hands of another group, let’s just say it is their neighbours to the south 😉

This year, for their last year, you can see Historia Germanica and their cannons, and listen to their interesting and educational talk in the Castle Arena both Saturday and Sunday.

From Historia Germanica:

“We would like to thank the Abbey for all their hard work making the festival come alive. We have really enjoyed our years of bringing a bit of noise to the festival”

The Effect of Cannons on Troupes‘ is scheduled for 11:45 on Saturday 9th, and 2:15 on Sunday the 10th.

Buy your tickets to the Festival now!

More on the final groups of reenactors here soon

The Pageant Wagon

What is the Pageant Wagon?

 Some history regarding Medieval Theatre.


The European Renaissance holds the title of being one of the great ages of theatre. Patronage of acting troupes, the establishment of permanent theatres and playwrights such as Shakespeare and Marlowe, provide solid evidence to support this statement. While this era of theatre is still studied and adored today, it is important to acknowledge that an artistic revolution like the Renaissance is indebted to its predecessor – Medieval Theatre.

By today’s standards, the subject of many plays that make up medieval theatre wouldn’t be considered as exciting as those of the Renaissance, but its history is no less impressive. With its humble beginnings of Catholic priests performing biblical events during mass, it led into the Renaissance with troupes of actors performing on one of the great tools of medieval theatre, the Pageant Wagon.


A procession of wagons would arrive in town, each performing a scene of a cycle play; the audience would either remain stationary as the wagons passed by, or the wagons would be set up in an open area allowing the public to move from play to play. It was a wonderfully inventive way to allow just about the whole community a chance to see a performance.

Unfortunately, modern day occupational health and safety standards make it a little tricky to have a pageant wagon; however 2015 saw the debut of a new venue at Abbeystowe – the Pageant Wagon – the Abbey Medieval Festival’s little homage to staging for medieval theatre. Last year the Abbey Medieval House Troupe tested the waters a little by performing Shakespeare and a variety of children’s stories on our new stage. Conveniently situated near the Market Place, the Pageant Wagon stage will be in full swing in 2016 with a full program of theatre, costume and music.

A guaranteed favourite at the Pageant Wagon stage will be the children’s story telling. Developed and performed by the Abbey Medieval House Troupe, the story telling will take place from 12-1pm, and again 3.30-4pm both Saturday and Sunday at the Festival. Performed ‘players theatre’ style, the stories are told by a narrator with sections acted out by performers.


Stories for 2016 are will include:

St George and the Dragon

Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow

King Arthur and the Sword and the Stone.

Come and sit by the Pageant Wagon stage – the perfect opportunity for families to have lunch while being entertained! Cheer for the good guys and boo at the baddies!

Buy your tickets now to see the Pageant Wagon come to life! 
If anyone would like to fund the construction of a functioning pageant wagon that meets modern day OH&S standards, please contact our House Troupe Coordinator, you will quickly become her favourite person. Ever.

Celebrating Shakespeare

‘Eaten me out of house and home’

‘Forever and a day’

‘Good riddance’

‘Wear my heart upon my sleeve’

We’ve all heard one or all of these saying before. But did you know where they came from? Who was the first person to say or write them?

These are just some of the common phrases made popular by the great playwright and wordsmith William Shakespeare!

Ever eat a meal so delicious that the only was the describe it was to say it was “a dish fit for the gods!”

Shakespeare did.

Did your parents ever get so exasperated at your siblings (not you, of course) you hear them say “for goodness sake!”

Yep, that came from Shakespeare.

Every knows a good “Knock Knock, who’s there” joke!

That phrase came from Shakespeare too!

Going on a “wild goose chase”!

Yep, you guessed it. Shakespeare.


Mind Blown.



Celebrating Shakespeare with the Abbey Medieval House Troupe!

23rd April 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and while the Bard may be ‘dead as a doornail’ (another one, thanks William!), his contributions to literature, theatre and the English language are immense and still celebrated today.

To mark this anniversary, the volunteers of Abbey Medieval House Troupe have been hard at work over the past few months developing and rehearsing a tribute to Shakespeare. Sorting through his plays to find a mere sample of gems to perform has proved to be an endeavour not for the ‘faint hearted’ (they just keep coming!). However the Troupe have managed to narrow it down to a select few including, but not limited to Macbeth, King Lear, Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and of course, Romeo and Juliet.

We cannot ignore the line we are dancing on with historical accuracy here, the Abbey Medieval Festival celebrates the Middle Ages, specifically Europe and the Middle East from 600 – 1600AD, thankfully for us we just touch on the English renaissance, and ‘as good luck would have it’ many of Shakespeare’s works are believed to have been penned in the late 1500s.

Come and see the House Troupe’s tribute this year!

Join the House Troupe to be a part of amazing shows like this, and many others!

Black Plague Doctor

 Have you ever wondered who/what the person dressed in black with a white long beaked mask is? Or do you know a little about this person/character, but would love some more info?


The Black Plague Doctor!



Typically donned head to toe in black, with a white, long-beaked mask, the Black Plague Doctor is one of many iconic figures from the middle ages, largely due to the unique and often terrifying mask. Fully covering the face with glass openings for their eyes, the mask’s prominent feature is the long curved beak shaped nose that typically held dried flowers, herbs and spices to keep away the bad and evil smell of their patients. Although this character has a foreboding presence, seen as the bringer of death, they were instructed to treat patients in a friendly and kind manner.

It was believed that the Plague was spread by smell, hence the stuffed beak and clothing designed to basically cocoon the doctor. A shining example of the archaic medical practice and understanding of medicine and disease at the time.


The Black Plague Doctor is a fascinating character and one we love to profile at the Abbey Medieval Festival. Since 2013, the role of resident Plague Physician has been filled by Murray, a volunteer with the Abbey Medieval House Troupe, who, every year, travels from Victoria to rid Abbeystowe of the deadly Plague. To show that he is not to be feared, Murray has been seen playing ring-around-the-rosy and soccer with patrons at the Abbey. Treating patients is his first priority, and he always likes to lend a helping hand to clear out the dead at the end of the day.

If you spot our wonderful plague doctor at the Abbey Medieval Festival this year, feel free to stop and say hello, ask for a photograph, or treatment advice* – his plague pillows are highly effective!

*Disclaimer: Murray is only qualified to assist with medieval treatment of the black plague.

To meet Murray, whoops I mean, The Black Plague Doctor this year, buy your tickets now!

Join the Abbey Medieval Festival House Troupe!

Kids Dressing up for the Abbey Medieval Festival

Does your youngster dream of being a knight in shining armour or the famous Robin Hood or one of his merry men? Are you bringing them to the Abbey Medieval Festival to fulfill their dreams?  If so I guess you are dressing them up in a little cotehardi and tights or pretend armour and helmet. This, of course, is a must for our little knights in shining armour or brave archers.

But what about weapons?? Do we have to apply for a weapons permit for our little warriors?

Okay parents this is what you need to know.

You DO NOT need a weapons permit for toy swords. But please be aware that if your young one challenges another youngster to a duel, you ARE responsible for their action and safety.

Now when it comes to bows and arrows, I am afraid it is one or the other. Unfortunately because our young archers do not have the necessary control to safely fire their arrows in a crowded festival.

We do have an archery range run by the Traditional Archery Company where your young ones can have the opportunity to safely shoot some arrows … it is only $4 for 5 arrows. Or you can purchase a day pass for $13 and go back as many time as you like throughout the day.

We want you and your children to have a wonderful time at our festival. But past experiences have taught us that we need to take certain safety precautions.

Remember, when it comes to toy swords, axes and bows… then plastic or foam is best and safest for your children and the other children they may play with.


What to wear to the Abbey Medieval Festival

What to wear to the Abbey Medieval Festival

One of the best parts of the Abbey Medieval Festival is being able to immerse yourself in the culture and costumes of the day. We encourage all of our visitors to join in with the fun and dress up! Have fun dressing as Lords, Ladies, Kings, Queens, knights, peasants, jesters, wenches, soldiers or a loyal squire!

Whether or not you choose to dress up when attending the Abbey Medieval Festival, we suggest wearing comfortable clothing and footwear. Please be mindful that you may be in the sun for a good deal of the day and ensure that you Slip, Slop, Slap. Likewise, ensure you wear comfortable shoes. Watching the carnival, browsing through the markets and taking part in activities are all the more enjoyable in supportive footwear.

Enjoying yourself is the priority when attending the Abbey Medieval Festival, so dress up or dress down, it’s your choice……just don’t forget your tickets!

Children’s Costume Competition

This week we were unfortunately faced with the difficult decision of cancelling our Kids’ Medieval Fun Day. We know that there are many fans out there who, like us, were disappointed with this situation; we want to thank you all for your understanding and support.

Children’s Costume Competition

We know there are many dedicated parents out there who worked hard creating costumes for little Knights and Princesses to attend the Kids’ Medieval Fun Day. So after a little shuffling around, we are happy to announce that we will have a Children’s Costume Competition this weekend at the Abbey Medieval Festival! Any young Lords and Ladies between the ages of 3 – 12 are welcome to participate in the competition which will be held on stage outside the Friar’s Folly at 12.45 – 1.15pm, We ask that those interested in participating please contact performance@abbeytournament.com.

Fun for the whole family

The Abbey Medieval Festival is a weekend full of workshops, demonstrations and fun for the whole family and we thought we’d share some ideas for the young Lords and Ladies visiting Abbeystowe:

Plan Your Day: Families with Little Kids (aged 0-5)

Plan Your Day: Families with Primary Age Kids (aged 6-11)

Plan Your Day: Families with Teenagers

And parents, don’t miss out on a great offer from Medieval Fightclub! Present your Medieval Fightclub sponsored jousting ticket when purchasing a Toy Sword & Shield Set and they will give you another set FREE! You can find their stall in the market place all weekend.


Q&A with Re-enactors!

We got some of our fabulous re-enactors to answer some questions for us! We asked some questions very nicely (they have big swords!) and they were kind enough to answer. Here are some of their answers to some of those hairy questions!

What do visitors to your encampment never fail to ask you?

Do you really sleep in the tent overnight? Do you really eat what you’re cooking (beast on spit)? Where did you buy that? What did they eat?

Is it a real…fire, food, are the swords sharp, is that a plastic pig?

Is that armour heavy? Is that a real fire? Is that a real animal on the spit?

Are they Greyhounds? or What sort of dogs are they? Why are you here? What did Greyhounds do in medieval times? Did they race? Are these dogs safe to pat? Did medieval people keep Greyhounds as pets? Is it hard to walk in those dresses? What are the dogs’ names and ages?

What do you want the public to know about you?

That we’re very ordinary people…who love to hit each other with swords and cook over an open fire.

Can the public join your group?

Absolutely! If you’re interested in joining them, just ask at the Festival!

Is re-enacting an expensive hobby?

Yes and no. Compared to golf or sailing, probably not, but compared to knitting, definitely. The great thing is that members can start off relatively cheaply and then add to their wardrobe and kit each year at a rate they can afford.

Is it a time consuming hobby?

Can be very, but really you’d put as much time as you would any hobby. At least one afternoon a week.

Not really, again it depends on your level of interest. Combatant Training is weekly for both garrisons and you are expected to commit to this as you are required to be a safe and competent fighter.

It can be as time consuming (or not) as members want it to be – some of us spend much of the year making clothing and kit, and researching, and others simply put their clothing on for the festival or another show, and they’re ready to go!

What do you get out of re-enactment?

A way of life. Camaraderie. Satisfaction. Constantly learn and develop skills.

Being part of a large Australia wide group (and there are some garrisons overseas) , enables you to learn about history and learn many skills as you can draw on so much accumulated research, knowledge and experience.

We really love interacting with the public and providing them with information about our time period and about the role longdogs played during that time period. We get asked literally thousands of questions over the course of the Abbey and other smaller events, and its always fun to watch people’s reactions to what they learn. And of course, its always fun to dress up and pretend to be a Lady!

Who are your arch rivals in re-enactment?

The wicked Varangian Guard! Death to those evil wretches.

No we keep killing them off 😉 there is no group that does what we do so we don’t have rivals but many friends.

The NVG is a mighty war machine, we train hard and we fight hard – our biggest challenge is at events like Abbey Festival when the two garrisons fight each other.

None and I hope it will remain that way. We are a friendly group and get on with all the other groups we have come across.

What makes your group famous?

Beast on a spit. The name Blackwolf and the Bedouin Tent.

Our costumes and our cannons

With over two decades of aggression under our belt, we are known for taking our combat seriously and for also playing hard (after hours of course!)

Our hounds are awesome! They love pats, cuddles, posing for photos, and they’re very photogenic.


The re-enactors at the Festival are all lovely, feel free to have a chat with them about what they’re doing, what time they’re representing, how to join, and anything else you might want to know.

Please be mindful of Encampment Etiquette though!

The very first costume competition

Calling all talented visitors to the Festival! For the very first time, we’re running a costume competition! Open to all paying visitors to the Festival (sorry re-enactors and volunteers), this is a chance to show off your skills with a needle and thread.

We’ve been so impressed by the effort that is put into the clothing worn by our visitors that we’re giving you a chance to show them off! We are looking for dressmakers and enthusiasts to showcase their talents in recreating garments from the 600 – 1600 era, so if your costume is well researched and you believe it would qualify as an authentic garment we could see in medieval manuscripts, we think you should apply now!

The competition will be taking place on both the Saturday and Sunday, between 12.30pm and 1.15pm, on the stage next to the Friar’s Folly Tavern.


  • Applications will only be accepted by filling out the Entry form on the website.
  • Must be over 16 years of age (entrants between 16-18 must have written parental consent to be eligible) Consent form can be found here.
  • Costume must have historical reference to the era represented by the Abbey Medieval Festival – we cannot accept fantasy inspired costumes
  • Costume cannot be store bought – our competition is all about showcase the dressmaking abilities of our visiting public
  • Entrants can only participate on one day
  • Members of the Abbey Medieval Festival committee, volunteers for the festival, re-enactors and other entertainment providers at the Festival are not eligible to enter

For more information check out the Costume Competition FAQ

How the winners will be chosen:

  • Historical accuracy/reference
  • Technique
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail
  • Crowd favourite will be judged according to the loudest cheers from the audience

All applications will be reviewed to determine eligibility; each eligible entrant will be contacted via email directly by the Festival to discuss participation. The judging panel will determine first and second place on each day and the audience will pick a ‘People’s Choice’. Please read the Terms and Conditions and our Frequently Asked Questions for further information or contact us at performance@abbeytournament.com with any questions you may have.

The countdown is on for the Festival, time to get out the fabric and thread and create something amazing!

More information

Frequently asked questions

Terms and Conditions

Parent Consent Form

Apply here!!

Gowns for the Festival!

Between the 10th and 14th centuries women are generally depicted wearing a simple, smooth gown with tapered sleeves and full skirts, and these gowns are great for many different periods. They can be worn on their own with simple accessories to fit in with the 13th century, or can be worn under bliauts, fuller gowns and as an undergown.

Now for a surprise! Three handmade gowns are available; in a forest green, navy blue and scarlet red, they’ll stand out in a crowd. These gowns come with a white belt and a medieval style necklace, to help you get into the spirit of the Festival! The sizing is a medium to large (12/14), and has an approx 20cm train.

Part of the sale price will be donated to the Abbey Museum as well – so not only do you get a great gown, you help the Festival and Museum!

Follow this to the Gumtree site and check them out!


Costumes for our four-legged friends.

Everyone loves cute pet pictures, and as we all love history around here, I’ve combined the two and found the most adorable pictures of pets in costume!

First up, His Highness, and the Prince.


His fair Queen, and the Princess.

The lady in waiting.

Their fearless knights.


The court jester to keep them all entertained.

And the fearsome perils of the realm!

Now remember, even though our pets look very cute in costume, they’re not allowed in the Festival!

The Festival is now on Instagram!

Because the rich visuals are such a huge part of the Festival, we’ve decided it would be fantastic to join the forces of Instagram and the internet to present… *drum roll please*…the Abbey Festival Instagram Feed!

The hashtag for this is #AbbeyFestival2013 so hashtag away!

Don’t forget to follow @AbbeyFestival on Instagram as well for official photos!

[instapress userid=”abbeyfestival2013″ piccount=”6″ size=”90″ effect=”fancybox”]

The Quick and Easy T-Tunic

For those who are searching for a quick-and-easy costume, something that will get you into the spirit of the Festival and conjure the feeling of being in medieval times, I present to you: the Guide to a T-Tunic!

Imagine yourself, ale in one hand and the other handing shading your eyes as you watch the merriment and talent of the reenactors at the Festival, in a costume you made yourself! It’s perfect for those with a sewing machine who can sew in a straight line, who need something to outfit the whole family, and who don’t want to spend a fortune. Just follow this link to the external site to download instructions in the handy PDF, and it covers what you need to be outfitted in your very own medieval tunic.

And check out this picture for inspiration! You too can have your own awesome costume to wow in.

All you need is some trim or ribbon, a belt and voila! You look fabulous!


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.



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?


A Brief Overview of Kirtles

The kirtle is a garment worn by women through most of medieval history and was the main garment in their wardrobes. It went through stages of being worn as a simple overdress is the 12th and 13th centuries by common and wealthy women, and was also used as an undergown. In the later 14th and 15th centuries, it became the main overdress for commoners, and an undergown for the wealthy, being worn under cotehardies, sideless surcotes and houppelandes. 1

In the 12th and 13th centuries, the kirtle was a floor-length and loosely-fitted gown, and had long, tight sleeves. The wealthier women would use more embroidery on their gowns to help denote their status, and the mantles that they wore may be lined with fur, to further enhance their status and display their wealth. 2


The kirtle became more close-fitting as time went on, and in the 14th and 15th centuries they were generally either laced or buttoned closed. We can deduce that laced kirtles were intended to be worn under overgowns, as it would be too expensive to have buttons on a gown that would be unseen, and lacing would create a smoother silhouette. It appears that wealthier women would have lacing at the back of their kirtles, as they would have had assistance with dressing. Buttoned kirtles were generally worn as overgowns, as they could convey the wealth of their owner better. 3

Even later still, they could be constructed by combining a fitted bodice with a skirt whichwas gathered or pleated into the waist seam. This image shows a woman wearing a kirtle over her smock, c. 1626. 4

There are so many variations on the kirtle, that it’s difficult to pin it down and say ‘yes, this is it’. Especially as they’re not always called kirtles, the terms cote, cotte, tunic and gown can all be used as well. This leaves us with room to create something that is elegant, stunning, or simple, depending on our tastes (and sewing ability!) What do you think of this clothing item?

1 http://www.revivalclothing.com/newcolorsandsizes10th-14thcenturylinenkirtle.aspx
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1200%E2%80%931300_in_fashion
3 http://rosaliegilbert.com/kirtles.html
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirtle

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!

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 makings of an outfit.

I’ve decided to contribute a little more (and help you get into the festival spirit) by making costumes, of which part of the proceeds will be donated to the Museum. So not only will you look fabulous on the day – you’re also helping the Museum to preserve their priceless artefacts, and to help make the Festival run. Although I do have to note – I’m not a reenactor, so while the costumes may not be exactly correct from a historical point of view as they’re made using modern techniques and patterns, they will definitely make you feel at home at the Festival. I’m aiming to make ladies dresses, cloaks, and find jewellery that fits the medieval theme. I’m also open to suggestions!

My first project will be a female cotehardie, and it’ll have tippets and a belt as well.  I’ll keep you updated on how fabulous it is and how it comes together!

I’ve also found a pair of ankle boots which I think fit the ‘simple boot for people who want to get into the spirit of things’ requirement quite nicely! They come in black, tan and purple. Call me crazy, but even though the black and tan looks quite nice, the purple might not quite suit. What do you think of these? Good for the spirit of things?