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30th Year Recap! HUZZAH!

This year’s 30th Abbey Medieval Festival was everything it was anticipated to be and more. By now you may know certain facts about the Abbey Medieval Festival.  At the top of list, are the one thousand re-enactors from a variety of groups who come to Abbeystowe to bring to life a time period representing 600AD to 1600AD.  There was everything from the five medieval tournaments, including the highly anticipated Joust tournament, to presentations, demonstrations and workshops. There were re-enacted historical battles, birds of prey & incredible animals, live music & entertainers, and a traditional Viking boat burning honouring well known re-enactor “Visti the Viking”.  There were 89 food and craft stall holders, and something for every interest imaginable. There was so much “medieval” it was hard to realise you weren’t actually in another place in time.

What you might not know is that there were over 30,000 visitors at Abbeystowe over the course of two days. It is the largest ‘living history’ event in Australia and even the Southern Hemisphere!  We’d like to thank each involved in helping us achieve our mission in creating the ultimate medieval experience.  It is our hope that everyone who experienced this tournament and festival milestone will have felt inspired to live a more enriched life, through this unique and immersive experience.  Continue below to see a photographic journey from this spectacular 30th year! All photos by Brett Croese.

But first, we honour the 2019 tournament champions.

Joust: David Williamson

Archery: John Pettigrew

Oil Wrestling: Murat Sebat

Strength and Skill: Lady Heather and her proxy, Squire Gareth

Holmgang: N/A this year

David Williamson – 2019 Joust Tournament Champion!

Archery champion, John Pettigrew, honoured by the Lord and Lady of Abbeystowe!

Murat Sebat – Turkish Oil Wrestling Champ!

Lady Heather and her proxy, Squire Gareth – Strength and Skill!

The crowd was guided by none other than Lord Herald Sir Blair Martin!

It’s always so special to see the Birds of Prey!

The incredible Lady Amanda Challen during the parade…

…and head to head during the Joust Tournament!

No pressure!

Defending the castle during the seige!

‘Terry The Great’ from All Star Fish!

Prima Spada!

Familiar site at the Abbey for years, the Plague Doctor!

Burial site of the ‘”Fafnir” at the Norviks encampment!

Swaying in the breeze at over 3 meters tall!

Major blow during ground combat!

The Norviks and Saga Viking groups enter for the boat burning ceremony…

…and it was set ablaze!

Beautiful dancers from the Janissary Barracks!

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Happy Birthday Sir Blair!

There is one voice synonymous with The Abbey Medieval Festival – our Herald, Sir Blair Martin. The man with a magnificent memory, voice and presence, Blair has brought style, panache, grandeur, elegance, flair and his unique presence to the Festival for the last 14 years, and it is in this, his 15th year, we want to celebrate the special part he plays as our Master of Ceremonies.

When Blair joined the Festival team he brought with him a love for knowledge and a personality bigger than Ben Hur. A veritable walking encyclopedia, Blair has the ability to come up with discuss any topic without faltering – perfect for bringing a voice to microphone-less re-enactors and performers.

His is a presence to be found in all aspects of the Abbey Medieval Festival.  From our Banquet to the Jousting to the Parade spectaculars of the Tournament, the quintessential skills and talents have entranced and gladdened the hearts of our patrons over these last years.

We wish you a magnificent Birthday Sir Blair – may there be many more!

How full on will it be? Very says Sir Justyn!

He walked into the tent a different man than he had walked out. Less than 30 minutes ago I was putting his armour on and telling him what he might expect in the upcoming duel. I was telling him how the armour was made to function and what his best options would be. I asked if he had a good level of physical fitness to which he said it was reasonably good. I told him this would help him a lot even though it would likely be one of the most physically gruelling things he would likely ever do.
“How full on will it be?” he asked, his curiosity piqued.
“Very full on in terms of physicality but you’ll mostly be safe thanks to the armour. Maybe some bruising and some aches but the risk of significant injury is pretty low.” I replied.
“Is it the fighting going to be for real?” he asked.
“Yes, but your opponent is not trying to kill you or injure you just force you to yield or knock you to the ground.” My reply was casual and it seemed to alarm him a little. “Have you ever done any kind of fighting or martial art in your past” I enquired.
“No, never.” He quietly replied.
“Well with my help and God Willing, you’ll hold your own, suffer little discomfort and be safe in the fact that injury and death in battle is a great honour to a knight.” I clapped him cheerfully on the shoulder I just put armour on.


Eventually he was ready for the fight. He moved well in the armour even though it was not a perfect fir for him; he was longer in limb than I and his limbs were more slender and less robust but he seemed comfortable in my armour. I could tell he was just a little nervous.
Once we commenced his nerves seemed to disappear. The crowd cheered wildly and in the face of his fierce opponent he surprisingly did not shirk or back away.

Each time he was struck I imagined he was close to submitting and I was impressed with his tenacity in combat. At one stage I asked if he was ok. He gave a wink to reassure me that he was fine even when his crew were concerned for his safety. Back into the fray he went without a second thought. The battle went on until the victor was evident.

He was swarmed by admirers and fans who wanted to congratulate him and meet him. I took that opportunity to make my way back to the tent primarily to attend to the falcons for a few moments for our upcoming falconry jaunt but also to avoid the throng and make ready for his arrival. Eventually he walked into the tent.

Wordlessly he entered and I compelled him to sit on my chair as I fetched him fresh water. His shoulders sagged, his eyes were distant and I thought it may have been a reflection on the recent battle, perhaps it was concussion. I asked if I could start to take the armour off but he was happy to sit quietly for a short moment. His crew were concerned.
“Chris? Chris mate, are you OK?” they asked?
“Yeah,” he replied snapping back into the present, ”I’m just shattered.”
I started to take his harness off while my friend Baron Christian Christiansson proceeded to tell his crew he was to have plenty of water for the next few hours to help with re-hydration.
“How do you feel?” I asked him.
“I had no idea when you said how taxing it would be that it would take that much out of me.” He replied with a smile. “It was the hardest thing I think I have ever done.”
I smiled.
“You did well.” I said. “You just went toe to toe with one of the fiercest warriors we have and held your own better than others who I have seen who have trained for many years. This is full contact fighting my friend and you took to it quite naturally. Well done.”
I pointed to the cut on his forehead and casually explained how the compression of the helm under a heavy blow forced the edge of the helm into you’re his forehead causing a light wound.

“It bleeds like mad at first but then it stops quite suddenly.” I explained. “It looks more impressive than it really is.” I held out my hand to give him a handshake. “Welcome to the club my friend! It was an honour to stand beside you this day on the tourney field.”
He smiled and quietly said uncertainly, “I think I’m honoured.”


That my friends is part of the tale of my experience with Dr Chris Brown, Bondi Vet and one of the stars of The Living Room, temporary charge of Sir Justyn and honorary knight of Eslite d’ Corps at the Abbey medieval Festival 2012. I excitedly look towards 2013 to see who comes to play with us next time.