King Harold Day 2008

Make a note in your Diary

King Harold Day 2008

Saturday 11 October

10.00am to 4.00pm

The Abbey Gardens, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1DJ.

Published in: on October 28, 2007 at 1:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Fourth King Harold Day another great success

The fourth King Harold Day on 13 October 2007 was another huge success. For the fourth year running we were blessed with warm, sunny weather, and the number of visitors built up during the day so that there was a large crowd at the Arena events.

The event held in the Abbey Church, the Abbey Churchyard and Abbey Gardens, (by kind permission of the Church authorities and the Lee Valley Park), included major attractions, stalls, and demonstrations.

A living history enactment group, The Feudal Archers, had set up their medieval camp under the shadow of the Abbey walls. They cooked on their wood fire, and ate only food which would have been available in medieval times. The ladies demonstrated how wool would have been spun and woven into belts and decoration for clothes. The men made arrows, and prepared their arms and armour. In the morning they gave an archery display in the Arena, and in the afternoon they armed a knight for battle. They also demonstrated how archers could attack a line of approaching knights despite their protective shields.

The second major attraction in the Arena was the birds of prey from PL Falconry. The eagles, hawks and owls were on static display all day, so visitors could see them at close quarters. In the Arena, owner Paul Lewis described each beautiful bird and its flying action. The birds could be seen perched in the trees, and then swooped to return to Paul’s hand. Some lucky spectators were chosen to hold a bird and have it fly and return to their gloved hands.

Two items new to King Harold Day attracted great interest. John Sothcott used to have a musical group called St George’s Canzona. They played music in the medieval style on replica medieval instruments, which had been meticulously researched by John in his travels across the country. Sadly, John’s health means he can no longer play, but he put the instruments on display at King Harold Day, and talked to fascinated visitors about their history.

The second attraction was the wonderful embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry worked by Annette Banks. It had been intended to have the embroidery on display in the Abbey Church, but on the day it proved just too long! So it was put up all along the path at the side of the Church leading up to the Lychgate. The embroidery followed the story of the original, itself an embroidery really, but the wording was in English rather than Latin, making it more accessible. The 56 foot length had taken Annette twenty years to work, but she lengthened it by another four feet specially for King Harold Day. The new part showed Edith Swan-Neck, Harold’s mistress, going from her manor house at Nazeing to identify his body after his death at the Battle of Hastings, and bring it back for burial at his favourite abbey of Waltham. Annette spent the day answering the questions of the large number of visitors who flocked to see the remarkable embroidery.

Epping Archers had large crowds all day at their Have a Go Archery, and both Epping Forest District Museum and Waltham Abbey Historical Society had displays of local history and medieval objects to examine. Popular “hands on” stalls included Sally Macpherson who helped children to make clay models and showed them her potter’s wheel; Veronica Bruton selling cards in aid of the Abbey Church and letting children make their own cards; and Georgia Wisbey teaching children to make decorated willow crowns.

The King Harold Day society’s own trader’s tent, Lady Edith’s Wares, sold out of bows and arrows, swords and shields, heraldry posters and medieval hats. After a year’s absence, Grunal Moneta, the medieval moneyer was back with us again, where he minted special King Harold coins, and let children have a go themselves. Two magnificent heavy horses were brought to the Abbey Gardens by Dan Gallagher and friends. Children and adults queued to take a ride in one of the brightly-painted carts pulled by the horses.

In the church there was an excellent lunch-time concert under the direction of Stephen Bullamore, with violin soloist Mari Poll. The Church Tower was open for visits, giving wonderful views of the Lee Valley from the top, the church bells rang, and there was a display of traditional bread making.

The work submitted to the Schools’ Art Competition was on display in the Lady Chapel. Most local schools took part, and the theme of the Bayeux Tapestry gave them scope for some imaginative designs, using many different materials, and with a large number of children contributing to the finished pieces. All the work was of such a very high standard that the Society believes it should be put on wider display and intends talking to the Town Council.

Medieval refreshment available included venison and wild boar from Howlett’s Hall, grilled meats from Master Daniel’s barbecue, medieval recipes and old English Ales.

A special focus of the day at noon was the ceremony at the Harold Memorial Stone in the Abbey Churchyard. Principal guests, Cllr Mrs Caroline Pond, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, and Cllr Stuart Pryde, Mayor of Waltham Abbey, laid fresh flowers on the stone in memory of Harold, the last Saxon King of England. Jean Church, Vice Chairman, laid a wreath on behalf of Waltham Abbey Historical Society. The Rev’d Canon Martin Webster, Rector of Waltham Abbey, then drew the spectators’ thoughts to the work of uniting the country done by Harold and William I, and said that such efforts were still needed today. Peter Frost, Waltham Abbey Town Crier, was present, and a beautiful floral display on the memorial was kindly provided by Abbey Flower Designs. A guard of honour was formed by Waltham Cross Detachment, No 1 Company, Hertfordshire Army Cadet Force, under Sgt Paul Fury.

Joint Organizer, Tricia Gurnett, said, “It was a wonderful day once again. Everyone entered into the spirit of King Harold Day and set out to enjoy themselves. The King Harold Day Society is most grateful to all who took part. Particular mention must be made of Dave Giles and his friends working on site management, Sheila Giles, Grenville Welch and all their colleagues in the Abbey Church, Dan Gallagher, Richard Fletcher, the Prefects of King Harold School who manned the admission points and acted as marshals, the marvellous cadets from the Army Cadet Force who provided our security and willing and cheerful help wherever it was needed, and Waltham Abbey Town Council for their support in so many ways. Lastly, the Abbey Church and the Lee Valley Park who allow us to use this lovely venue.

“Next year King Harold Day will be on Saturday 11th October. We have used up all our financial reserves to stage this year’s event, but are determined that we shall be back next year, finding the £8,000 it costs us from somewhere. So put the date in your diary now!”


Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 9:44 pm  Comments (3)  

King Harold Day is this Saturday

King Harold Day 2007

Saturday 13 October,         10.00am to 4.00pm.

In the Abbey Gardens, the Abbey Church and Churchyard, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1DJ.

Admission:-   Adults £2.50;  Senior Citizens £1.50;  Children accompanied by an adult free.

Medieval Festival to commemorate Harold, the last Saxon King of England, who was killed at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, and brought back for burial at his favourite abbey of Waltham.

In our Craft Tent, we have

Veronica Bruton who will be selling handmade cards in aid of the Abbey Church

Ron Chapman with his paintings of Waltham Abbey, and his prints and cards of them to sell.

Ricky James selling rocks and fossils

Lea-Anne Mancini selling home made sweets, chocolate coated apples and candy floss

Jenny Roberts, of Abbey Sweetmeats, selling home made produce.

Pat Klijn and Elva Nash with their stall selling hand worked needlework, including glove puppets and cushions. 

The potter’s wheel will be demonstrated by Jill Cherry and Sally Macpherson, and you can have a go at making pottery.

Georgia Wisbey will show children how to make woven willow crowns.

John and Terry Sothcott will show the replica musical instruments made by John and formerly played by him, and will explain all about them to visitors.

Epping Forest District Museum will have an exhibition, and some medieval objects for children to handle.

Lastly, there will be a stall selling delicious handmade desserts.

In individual tents around the Gardens, you will find:-

Grunal Moneta, a Moneyer or medieval mint, where Dave Greenhalgh will hammer out special King Harold coins, and let you have a go as well;   He also has jewellery for sale;

The Ray Sears Collection, where Ray Sears will show his vast collection of pictures of old Waltham Abbey;

Lady Edith’s Wares, our trader’s tent, (presided over by Richard Fletcher), where you can buy wooden swords, shields, daggers and archery sets, coins, rings, helmets and chain mail hoods, tall pointy damsel hats, maiden circlets, medieval caps, purses and bags, miniature medieval figures,  magnets,address and telephone books, medieval reading books, heraldic wallcharts, kings & queens of England wallcharts, colouring sets, quill pens and tea towels of the Bayeux Tapestry;

Waltham Abbey Historical Society’s tent will have a history exhibition, medieval objects to examine, and the Society’s local history publications for sale;

At Herbal Haven’s stall you will be able to buy fresh herbs;

In the Abbey Church, you can admire its wonderful architecture and reredos;

you can hear medieval music played, and at lunchtime can listen to a concert led by the Musical Director, Stephen Bullamore, with the violin soloist Mari Poll.

you can see a display of traditional breadmaking by Barbara Utting;

you can climb the church tower and look out over Waltham Abbey and the Lee Valley;

you can see the great bells, and hear them ring, (Grenville Welch).

Once again we have organized a Schools’ Art Competition, and this year’s theme is the Bayeux Tapestry.   Most schools in the town have entered, and the work will be on display in the Lady Chapel of the Abbey Church.   Judges  –  Cllr Stuart Pryde, Ron Chapman, Jonathan Foster and Isabelle Perrichon.

Our special attractions for the day include:-

As a very special attraction this year, Annette Banks is putting her embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry on display in the Abbey Church.   The embroidery is sixty feet long, and took her twenty years to work.   It depicts the same scenes as the original tapestry, but the wording is in English, and Annette has added some scenes taking it up to the coronation of William I in Westminster Abbey, and a special section for us which shows Harold’s mistress, Edith Swan-Neck, reclaiming his body after the Battle of Hastings and bringing it back to Waltham for burial.

Epping Archers will be with us, and will give you the opportunity to Have a Go at archery;

Various performers will be around the site, including the King’s men who will hunt down the guilty and put them in our Stocks;

PL Falconry will be with us again, and their beautiful hawks, eagles and owls will be on display all day so that you can get close to them.   Once in the morning and once in the afternoon they will fly from the Arena.   You will be able to spot them perched in nearby trees and see them return to their owner’s hand;

The Wise Woman, Debbie Harding, will be around the site, with her herbs and wise words.

The magnificent heavy horses will be with us again, and will provide rides in their brightly-painted carts.    (Dan Gallagher and friends)

Peter Frost, Waltham Abbey’s Town Crier, will be adding his voice to the event, making announcements about the day.

The Feudal Archers, a living history enactment group, will have their Saxon camp under the shadow of the Abbey.   They will cook and eat food as they would have done in the 11th century.   They will prepare their clothes, their armour and weapons, including making arrows.   Once in the morning and once in the afternoon they will perform a set piece in The Arena, where they will arm a Knight for battle, and will engage in archery and swordplay.

After all that, you will probably want some refreshment:-

Master Daniel will have his grilled meats for sale, (barbecue);

Philpott’s Tearooms will offer medieval recipes for your lunch;

Howlett’s Hall Farm Venison will be with us.   You can buy their meats, and try freshly cooked venison and wild boar;

The Beer Tent, run by Paul Henshaw from the Queen’s Arms and Bill Pryor from The Sultan, will offer you Old English Ales;

Teas, soft drinks and snacks will be on sale in the Beer Tent and the former Countryside Centre, and teas in the Abbey Church.

Our special guests will be Cllr Mrs Caroline Pond, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, and Cllr Stuart Pryde, Mayor of Waltham Abbey.

At noon they will join us for a special ceremony at the Harold Memorial Stone in the Abbey Churchyard when we will commemorate Harold, the last Saxon King of England.

Joint Organizers  –  Elaine Fletcher and Tricia Gurnett        Site Manager  –  Dave Giles

Committee  –  Sheila Giles, Isabelle Perrichon, Tony O’Connor, Garth Gregory.

Public Address System  – R D Gray of Abridge

Photography  –  Jonathan Foster

Security and Site Marshals  –  Waltham Cross Detachment, No 1 Company,  Hertfordshire Army Cadet Force.

Admission points and marshals  –  The Prefects of King Harold School.

Published in: on October 12, 2007 at 11:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Medieval Musical Instruments at King Harold Day

John Sothcott used to have a musical group called  St George’s Canzona.  They played music in the medieval style on replica medieval instruments.

One of the places they played was in the Abbey Church at Waltham Abbey.

John was meticulous about the authenticity of the instruments, and, from his home in Harlow, travelled across the country researching them.  

 Sadly, John’s health means he can no longer play, but he still has the instruments.

He has kindly agreed to bring the instruments along to King Harold Day.   They will be on display in the Craft Marquee, and John and his wife, Terry, will be pleased to talk about them to our visitors.

King Harold Day 2007

Saturday 13 October

10.00am  –  4.00pm

The Abbey Gardens, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1DJ

Published in: on October 11, 2007 at 11:39 pm  Leave a Comment