AGINCOURT MEDIEVAL WEEKEND: JULY 15TH AND 16TH 2017
Why am I interested in history? I suppose it is because I love stories of all kinds and history in many ways is the ultimate tale.
When all is said and done, history reveals, only too clearly at times, who we are, where we came from, what horrible mistakes we’ve made in the past (and sometimes what things we did right!).
There’s also nothing quite like looking back at how our ancestors lived to make us realise, for all the failings of today’s society, we still have an awful lot to be grateful for. Anyone interested in living in a wattle and daub home, for instance? No? I rather thought not!
Image Credit: Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by Allison Symes during the Medieval Weekend in 2016.
So given my interest in history, I am glad to report the Road to Agincourt Project is holding another Medieval Weekend at the River Hamble Country Park at Bursledon on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th July 2017.
The Project exists to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, where the heavily outnumbered English army, especially the longbow users, defeated the French. The link for “Cry God for Harry, England and for St. George” from Shakespeare’s Henry V shows the origin of the phrase “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more” and shares some of the marvellous speech here.
I went to this Medieval Weekend last year and it was very enjoyable. Indeed over 2000 people went to the event. This year’s Weekend is specifically to celebrate the launch of the Virtual Museum of the Grace Dieu, one of Henry V’s flagships. I am planning to get along to this and find out more.
Entry to the event is free (though car parking charges may apply) and it is open from 11 am to 4 pm on both days.
The Virtual Museum has been created by members of Tec Hub, Eastleigh and can be explored by anyone with a smartphone. The virtual reality Grace Dieu will be actual size and the Agincourt website says that visitors will be able to see the ship emerge as a complete warship from the site of the wreck in the River Hamble. Now I’m sure that would be quite some sight! The great irony of course is that the ship only sailed the once before being struck by lightning, leading to being burnt to the waterline.
The Virtual Museum will have galleries and it is hoped that being able to visit this will encourage further tourists to the region to see the real location of the ship for themselves. It is rather remarkable we have anything of The Grace Dieu left at all.
As for last year’s event, there will be demonstrations of medieval crafts. I particularly recommend going to see the fletcher (arrowmaker) whose talk was very informative. You can put questions to those on the stalls as well.
Leather working, pole turning, felting and herbology will also have people in costume talking about their work. One of the biggest dangers facing the old herbalists (so many of whom were women) were false accusations of being involved with witchcraft. But there was an impressive range of medicines available, more than I was expecting to see. The different bottles looked nice too.
I highly recommend visiting the King’s Great Ships Trail too. What I loved about this last year was its accessibility for all ages and abilities. The path is nice, wide and smooth and the gradient (where applicable) is reasonably gentle. There are also superb views of the river, of course. And walking through trees, with hopefully a nice breeze coming off the river, on a decent path strikes me as being a very pleasant way to spend a weekend afternoon!
On the Saturday (15th) there will also be a series of special talks from historians including one from Dr. Ian Friel, who is a world expert on the Holigost. This was the original name for The Grace Dieu. There will also be talks from Grant Cox (University of Southampton Archaelogical Computing – Virtual Pasts) and Dr. Craig Lambert (Lecturer in Humanities at Southampton University and who specialises in medieval maritime history).
One other highlight for me last year was the Melford Hys Companie open air production of Chaucer and the reliving of the legend of St. George. Both were highly entertaining and good fun. The props were amusing, the company rightly judged their audience (Chaucer is not the easiest of sources to make suitable for all ages!) and the performances were acted with good humour.
I had not visited the country park here prior to last year’s event but it is an omission I was glad to rectify. The views across the Hamble are great and I can’t get over the fact the motorway really isn’t that far away.
If you get a chance to visit the Weekend, I would highly recommend doing so and I hope to report back further. The Virtual Museum idea intrigues… I like the idea of seeing how The Grace Dieu would have been. It makes it more real, as far as I’m concerned. I had no idea, for example, just how big the Mary Rose was until I went to the Royal Naval Dockyard to view her. Sometimes there is nothing quite like going to see for yourself! (And if it helps Hampshire tourism so much the better).
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.