Photo of the Day – The Committee get ready to walk

KHD2012-198 (2)BPhil Chadburn, Dave Giles, Sheila Giles, Nicola Jarmaine and friend, all Committee Members of the King Harold Day Society, gather in Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, ready for the Procession on King Harold Day  –  13 October 2012.

Photograph  –  Jonathan Foster

Come along to King Harold Day next Saturday 13 October

Published in: on October 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm  Comments (1)  

Celebrate Holy Cross Day at Waltham Abbey

Exciting news for all you 1066 and Anglo Saxon fans – the King Harold Day Society is promoting a new event in Waltham Abbey on 14 September this year, which we hope will become an annual date in the calendar. 

We are working with the Abbey Church and with Waltham Abbey Historical Society to put on     ………………..   

Holy Cross Day, to celebrate the day in about 1035 when Tovi the Proud, King Cnut’s Standard Bearer, brought the Holy Cross from Montacute to Waltham. 

So on Wednesday 14th September there will be a special service in the Abbey during which the story of the journey of the Holy Cross will be told.   Later there will be a procession from the western side of the River Lea, across the river, ending in the Abbey Churchyard.  This will represent the 66 Saxons who, according to the Waltham Chronicle, accompanied the Holy Cross on its journey to Waltham.   The procession will end at the eastern side of the Abbey in the spot where it is believed Tovi built his church to accommodate the Holy Cross, and there we will erect the cross we have brought from the other side of the River Lea. 

There will be a peal of bells from the Abbey Church, which will coincide with a similar peal at Montacute where they also celebrate Holy Cross Day. 

Watch this site for more details.

Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm  Comments (3)  

King Harold Day Committee welcomes two new members

The King Harold Day Society Committee is delighted to announce that it has two new members.

Pat Brooks, who is a former Town and District Councillor for Waltham Abbey, has agreed to join us.   Pat has been a great supporter of King Harold Day from the start, showing much interest in what we were doing.   She feels she will now have more time to help us, and we have gratefully accepted that and immediately asked her to come on the Committee.

Helen Hollick, the well-known author of historical novels including “Harold the King”, was the guest speaker at our evening event in 2010.  Ever since, she has kept in contact with us and has recently offered to join the Committee  –  which was swiftly accepted.   Helen has recently changed her publishing house, so is busy checking all her published work, but reckons she will be finished in time to come to our next meeting.

We are sure that these two ladies will be a huge help to us, and we welcome them to the King Harold Day Committee.

Published in: on June 7, 2011 at 12:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Another great King Harold Day saw two new Stars born!

“Josh and I had a great time and has already said he wants to go next year! Well done to all involved”,  “had a nice time with Laura at King Harold Day 🙂 It was fun going up the church tower and seeing the view from the top!”,  “great day at King Harold Day”,  “For me it was a really good day! Wish I’d bought a medieval dress at “Ye Olde Boutique”!  “Best show yet! “

These are just some of the comments that people have made on King Harold Day’s Facebook page since Saturday, and they confirm what everyone was saying on the day. 

The traders were delighted with how their day had gone, and they and the performers all said there was a lovely atmosphere at the event.

And KHD 2010 saw the birth of two new Stars!   Waltham Abbey’s Town Crier, Peter Frost, did a grand job out in the town centre  –  with his bell and his voice  –  making sure everyone knew King Harold Day was taking place, and then leading and controlling the Procession on its way through the town.   And the town’s new Rector, the Rev’d Peter Smith, showed that he is already immersing himself in the community, by both walking in the procession and speaking during the ceremony, see below.

The Swords of Chivalry, the living history re-enactment group, were very popular with visitors examining their weapons and seeing how they lived in their camp, and they engaged in sword fights in the Arena.   This year we had one of our own fighting.   Our Deputy Chief Marshal, Sergeant Paul Parker an Instructor with the Waltham Cross Army Cadets, is a member of the Swords of Chivalry  –  taking the name James of Waltham  –  and was highly pleased that he won his fights in the Arena.    

Richard and Elizabeth York, the medieval musicians had brought a large number of replica medieval musical instruments with them, and played to appreciative crowds at their tent, as well as letting younger members of the audience play the instruments.

Chingford Morris Men performed the Mummers’ Play, with a special script written for King Harold Day.   They caused much laughter by having their script written on the back of their shields.   As one visitor remarked, “just like the generation game.”   Then in the afternoon they danced their traditional dances. 

For the second year running, The Black Raven Knight and his magnificent horse, Beau, were much admired.  Children queued up to be photographed with him, and in return he collected donations for The Horse Trust charity.   

Lee Valley Park Farms brought some sheep, rabbits and guinea pigs, and had crowds around them all day. 

Pebadale Apiaries brought their bees in an observation hive, but as well had a traditional Skep containing a wonderful honeycomb, which they hope to preserve.

Epping Archers  –  with Have-a-Go Archery, had queues all day, with leader, Gordon Tigar, saying they could not have taken many more people. 

In the Craft Marquee, all the stalls were well attended, with a huge queue waiting for face painting.  Many stallholders were in medieval costume, including a Cistercian nun and a Teutonic knight of a holy order. 

The Abbey Church had lots of visitors.   Grenville Weltch led two tours of the Abbey, both with maximum numbers.   The Tower Mistress, Joan Miller, said that so many people wanted to climb the Tower that she had to have new ticket numbers printed twice.   The bells rang out across the town. 

Artwork by Waltham Abbey’s Schools was on exhibition in the Lady Chapel, with Leverton Infant & Nursery;  Waltham Holy Cross Junior;  Waltham Holy Cross Infant and Upshire Primary Schools taking part.   There was some excellent, imaginative work, including  panels representing stained glass windows and models of the church and a castle.    

Lee Valley Regional Park had collected apples from the Abbey’s own orchard, and had an apple press with which they produced delicious apple juice and offered it to the visitors.  They used mixed juice from Bramley and Empire apples. 

The main highlight of the day was the Procession and Ceremony  –  At noon, the costumed performers and traders walked in procession from Epping Forest District Museum along Sun Street, through the Market Square and into the Abbey Churchyard  –  and two new stars were born.  Waltham Abbey’s own Town Crier, Peter Frost, walked ahead of the Procession ringing his bell and calling, and he also spoke at the Memorial Stone.  The Procession was then headed by the Anglo Saxon Flag and by Peter & Elizabeth York playing medieval music.   Our special guests, (see below) joined the Procession.    

At the Harold Memorial Stone, a guard of honour was formed by the Waltham Cross Detachment, Army Cadet Force.  A floral display was already on the Stone, kindly donated by Abbey Flower Designs.   Then fresh flowers were laid by our principal guests, the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Cllr Anne Grigg, and the Mayor of Waltham Abbey, Cllr Ricki Gadsby, (who was accompanied by Mr Nick Gadsby).   Eleanor Laing, Member of Parliament for Epping Forest, was also present and her nine-year-old son, Matthew, was with her, wearing a suit of armour.  Jean Church, Vice Chairman, laid flowers on behalf of Waltham Abbey Historical Society.   

Then our second new Star appeared, when The Rev’d Peter Smith, the new Rector of Waltham Abbey, dressed in an amazing golden cope, spoke and blessed those taking part in the event.   He said that he had eaten a croissant for breakfast  –  for the French, and then a German sausage and he referred to Waltham Abbey’s twin town of Horstel.   What he did not know was that Richard James, former Town Clerk of Waltham Abbey had with him a friend from Horstel, Manfred, who was greatly pleased that his town was mentioned. 

Organizer of King Harold Day, Tricia Gurnett, said, “Just as we finished the ceremony the rain poured down really heavily, but fortunately it didn’t last long and it certainly didn’t stop the visitors coming.   In the middle of the afternoon the whole place was full of people, and the Marquee was heaving.   Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

“The King Harold Day Committee is grateful to all who came along and helped make the day so special.   Our sincere appreciation goes to the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and the Waltham Abbey Church for allowing us to use the beautiful Church and grounds, and to LVRPA again and to Waltham Abbey Town Council for their help and continued financial support.   My personal thanks go to the King Harold Day Committee:  Dave and Sheila Giles, Isabelle Perrichon, Paul Fury, Paul Parker, Danny Howley, Tony O’Connor and Nicola Jarmaine.  We look forward to seeing everyone again next October.”

Published in: on October 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Helen Hollick tells King Harold Day Society about her book, “Harold the King”

It did go a bit quiet when Helen Hollick declared that she firmly believed King Harold II was buried at Bosham in Sussex and not in Waltham Abbey.   But the sharp intakes of breath were released when she went on to say that she thought, like at many medieval and earlier deaths, his body was probably cut into a number of parts, (it was already badly mutilated on the battlefield of Hastings), with the torso buried at Bosham and the head and heart in Waltham Abbey.

Helen was the guest speaker at the King Harold Day Society’s autumn buffet supper and lecture evening, held last Saturday at the Abbey Church Centre, Waltham Abbey.

Well-known author, Helen Hollick was born and still lives in Walthamstow, and started writing at the age of 13  –  first about a pony and then sci-fi.   After school, she went to work as a library assistant, which gave her access to thousands of books, and developed a passion for Dark Age history.

Her first historical novels were the Pendragon’s Banner trilogy, a series of books about King Arthur.   On a lighter note, she has written a series of pirate-based historical fantasy novels, the Sea Witch Series, being the voyages of Captain Jesamiah Acorne.   And then, ten years or so ago, she published “Harold the King”, having become interested in the Saxon period, and, in her own words, “obsessed” by Harold II, the last Saxon King of England.   That was followed by a “prequel”, the “Hollow Crown” the story of Emma, Queen of Saxon England, who was Queen twice, to AEthelred the Unready and to Cnut, and who was the mother of Edward the Confessor.

Helen is also Co-screenwriter for the film “1066”, based on her novel, which is currently in preparation.

Helen spoke about how she came to write her books, the research she has done on King Harold, and her theories about his burial.  Bosham was the Godwinson family home, and she believes Harold’s mother would have wanted him buried there.   She accepted that her audience, being Waltham Abbey people, took the view that Harold was buried by the high altar in his Minster Church in the town.

The evening, the second such event held by the King Harold Day Society, was a great success, and Helen has agreed to join the Friends of King Harold Day, the Society’s support group.

(Photograph of Helen Hollick courtesy of Waltham Abbey Historical Society)

Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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