Two new Vice Chairmen for King Harold Day Society

We have much pleasure in announcing that we have elected Isabelle Perrichon and Dave Giles as Vice Chairmen of the King Harold Day Society. 

Chairman of the Society and Organizer of  King Harold Day, Tricia Gurnett, said:-

“Isabelle and Dave are founder members of the Committee, having worked right from the start to get the event to where it is today, an established part of Waltham Abbey’s year.   We are delighted to recognize this by electing them as our Vice Chairmen.

“We have a first class committee, which was strengthened this year by new members, including our Treasurer, Paul Fury. 

“We all work well together and enjoy ourselves greatly.   We shall continue to make King Harold Day grow in size and quality.”

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

King Harold Day 2008 even bigger success

The fifth King Harold Day was even bigger than the previous year’s record numbers, and attracted over 5,000 visitors.  Once again we had marvellous weather, and by lunch-time there were large crowds watching the Arena events, and at all the stalls and demonstrations. 

The event was held in the Abbey Church, the Abbey Churchyard and Abbey Gardens, (by kind permission of Waltham Abbey Church and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority), and included major entertainment and attractions, stalls, and craft demonstrations. 

A living history enactment group, The Company of Saint Joseph, had set up their medieval camp under the shadow of the Abbey walls.   They were busy all day showing visitors the armour and weapons used, and how people lived at the time.   They were cooking, sewing, preparing their armour, arrows and other weapons, and the calligrapher was showing people how writing took place in medieval times.

Two bowmen from The Feudal Archers were also present, and they gave archery displays in the Arena, and told spectators all about how bows and arrows were made and used.   

Both adults and children got to try on armour and hold the weapons.

For the third year the birds of prey from PL Falconry were with us.   The eagles, hawks and owls were on static display all day, so visitors could see them at close quarters, and were also flown from the Arena by owner, Paul Lewis,  who 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 new entertainments were The Grinnigogs and Sweete Harmonie.    The Grinnigogs are a group of medieval musicians, whose wonderful, happy, tuneful music echoed around the Gardens.   Sweete Harmonie is a group of female singers, who entertained the crowds with lovely songs.    The English Companions also joined us for the first time.   These scholars and researchers told people about Anglo Saxon life.

The craft marquee and the outside pitches were packed with people eager to buy from old favourites, and from some new to King Harold Day, like Pebadale Apiaries who sold candles, wax polish, honey, etc.   They also had bees to view in an observation hive, which fascinated onlookers all day. 

Exhibitions were staged by Epping Forest District Museum, the Ray Sears Photographic Collection and Waltham Abbey Historical Society, who also had their recent archaeological dig open for people to see.   John Sothcott brought his carefully-researched replica medieval musical instruments, and once again Annette Banks had her embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry on display.   Sixty feet long, it stretched round the fence outside the Abbey Church Centre, and Annette spent all day telling people about the history behind it, and the twenty years that it took her to work it.

Epping Archers had long queues all day at their Have a Go Archery, and other popular “hands on” stalls were 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. 

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority had their information unit present, and were kept busy talking to visitors about the park and all it has to offer.   The Park also had a competition going for children to design and paint shields.   Lee Valley Park Farms had brought along some of their small animals, which the children loved to watch. 

In the Abbey Church there was one of the concerts of the Music For Lunch series, arranged by Stephen Bullamore, Director of Music.   It was given by the Byron Consort of Harrow School, and was a specially chosen selection of music by Thomas Tallis, Director of Music at Waltham Abbey 1538  – 1540.   It was particularly suitable for our medieval festival.   The unaccompanied singing was superb, as was the organ recital by Harrow pupil, Sam Rutter, of Bach’s Fugue in B Minor.  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 by Barbara Utting.   Grenville Weltch gave conducted tours of the Abbey Church, including the outside showing the traces of Harold’s church and the remains of the great Abbey.   The afternoon tour attracted a very large audience.

The work submitted to the Schools’ Art Competition was on display in the Lady Chapel.   Most local schools took part, and the theme of How People lived in the 11th Century produced most interesting ideas and well-executed work.

The Hog Roast was very popular throughout the day, as were the venison and wild boar from Howlett’s Hall, medieval recipes at Philpott’s Tearooms, and the other refreshment points.

At noon, as the focal point of the day, a procession of all the costumed performers and traders took place from the Arena to the Harold Memorial Stone in the Abbey Churchyard, where a beautiful floral decoration had been kindly provided by Abbey Flower Designs.   The Grinnigogs led the way, playing their medieval music, and spectators joined the procession as it walked along.   At the stone, a guard of honour was drawn up formed by Waltham Cross Detachment, No 1 Company, Hertfordshire Army Cadet Force, under Sergeant Paul Fury.   Flowers were laid at the Memorial Stone by Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Cllr John Knapman, and Mayor of Waltham Abbey, Cllr Stuart Pryde, on behalf of the people of Waltham Abbey;  and by Jean Church, Vice Chairman, on behalf of Waltham Abbey Historical Society.   This year, for the first time, flowers were sent by Stamford Bridge Parish Council, the site of the battle won so soundly by King Harold before he marched south to his death at Hastings.   Stamford Bridge had sent the White Roses of Yorkshire, and they were laid on their behalf by founder member of the King Harold Day Society, Dave Giles.   The Rev’d Joyce Smith, from Waltham Abbey Church, spoke, and then Steve Pollington, a member of The English Companions, spoke about King Harold in the Old English language. 

The words heard most often on King Harold Day were how happy everyone seemed, and how much they were enjoying themselves.   It was a wonderful day, the entertainment was great, and the Procession added so much to it.   

The King Harold Day Society is most grateful to all who took part and who helped before the day.   Friends from the Abbey Church, from the Lee Valley Regional Park (especially Eric Wilton and Naomi Chant) and Park Farms, from the Town Council, some Prefects from King Harold School, Barbara Watson, who worked all day on the merchandising stall, Jonathan Foster who acts as our official photographer, and Vivien and Derek from the Red Cross.  And, of course, the wonderful Army Cadets, who, in addition to providing our security, proved tremendous help in setting up and throughout the day. 

We are most grateful to the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, Waltham Abbey Town Council and Epping Forest District Council who kindly gave us financial support, and to the LVRPA and to Waltham Abbey Church who allow us to use the beautiful site.  

(The team without whom King Harold Day would not have happened:-  Isabelle Perrichon, Dave Giles, Sheila Giles, Paul Fury, his mother, Lynda, Tony O’Connor, Nicola Cobbold, and Tricia Gurnett.)


“King Harold Day has become an established part of the Waltham Abbey year, and we shall be back next October.”

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment