English Heritage’s History Live! 2013

Last year’s Festival of History was cancelled because the river burst its banks and flooded the whole field at Kelmarsh. This year, however, was dry and lovely and a comfortable temperature – and we all had a blast! Re-named History Live! this festival had loads of activities from historical eras spanning 2,000 years. All photos by me.

Our trip did, however, suffer from a few hiccups…

a) I had forgotten to get cash the day before, so I had no choice but to get it in style…!The Seventeenth Century Lady on a 21st Century High Street!

b) My husband was not so happy about having to go as the Duke of Monmouth. He’s a serious sort of chap, and this was certainly not something he would have volunteered to do. He was embarrassed at first, but happily, he got into the spirit of things and ended up being quite popular at the festival:
2013-07-21 15.53.28c) We felt a little ripped off by the “spicy chicken pasty” we bought for around £4! Yes, what should I expect from a captive market situation, but it had two little pieces of chicken in it and the rest was potato! Not on! Anyway, we brought our lunch today, which was a lot cheaper and better.

We both thought that Sunday was better than Saturday, and we thoroughly enjoyed the new Cavaliers! event. From the schedule:


The Battle of Dunbar (1650) saw the English Parliamentarian forces under Oliver Cromwell defeat a Scottish army loyal to King Charles II, who had been proclaimed King by the Scots of 5 February 1649. The battle lasted a mere two hours – Cromwell claimed that 3,000 Scots were killed in the rout, with the loss of only 30 men of the Commonwealth army. Today’s display looks at the equipment, arms and tactics of the two forces – the Scottish Covenanting Army and the New Model Army – the instrument  of Parliament’s overthrow of Charles I and the basis of England’s oft forgotten period of Republicanism.

This was great, and I think the commentator said that the Sealed Knot performed in this display:

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It is 1670 and Charles II – “The Merry Monarch” – sits upon the throne. Accompanied by member of his court, he inspects a parade by his LIfe Guard of horses – all gentleman of the court, some of whom served his father in the Civil Wars. To a fanfare of trumpet, the cavalrymen display their skill with sword, pistol, and carbine, before engaging in a horse race.

This was, without a doubt, my favourite part of the whole weekend. I’m sure that you know by now how much I love periwigs. Almost every single rider was wearing a periwig, dressed in late 17th century attire, and looking mighty dashing. I was really excited, and though I don’t like animal racing, I enjoyed the horse racing bit. I was pleasantly surprised to see an acquaintance of mine, Mark, from Past Pleasures, act the part of Charles II. He was one of the best Charles II’s I’ve ever seen, and was a pretty good horseman! But look at these chaps – they’re so handsome!!!

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I found myself crushing over this guy especially – what a rider!:
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Next up we went to listen to the always awesome The Oxford Waits, who performed ballads and folk songs from the Restoration and English Civil War era – they were so good, and the director/main man delivered his lines with great enthusiasm, which in turn, got us all more engaged in the entertainment.

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After this we saw the WWII battle and the Spitfire flew by and there were men parachuting down into the arena, which was really impressive:

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I met up with several people I have known on Twitter for a few years – including Susannah Lipscomb, Historical fiction author S.J.A.Turney, Jane from Hats Period, and the always affable Julian Humphrys. I feel so lucky to have been able to say hi to these people – and many others – during this weekend. There were so many little children who came up to us and asked what historical time we were from, who was the king at that time, etc – it’s so heartwarming to see such enthusiasm for history in young children.

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I saw so many lovely, happy, friendly people – people who came together to learn about history, their heritage, their culture, and spending quality time together. I heard not a single profanity, not a single incident of remonstration – it was a great weekend.

To see all of my photos from this event, please go to my Facebook page (and whilst you’re there, give a lady a hand and “like” it, too!)

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