I’ll tell you, membership in one of the historical societies continues to pay off. I was browsing the site looking for somewhere to go and what do I see? Another Festival of History, this time in Northampton, actually Kelmarsh Hall and Gardens. It looked like it might rain the morning I decided to go but by now I learned that’s just England so I got in the car and off I went.
The event took place on an enormous field and I parked in a sea of cars. Thousands of people dressed in period clothing as well as vendors were there. Based on the number of cars in the grass lot I imagine several thousand spectators showed up. It did end up raining off and on so I grabbed a small raincoat and stuffed it in my pocket. It was also a bit cold so I brought a heavy shirt just in case. I entered the arena of festivities and was amazed at the number of vendors selling food, souvenirs, hand made crafts as well as historical items dating from World War II and back from what I could tell.
Some people and groups appeared to be staying on the site as I saw campers and tents with the occupants hanging out on chairs and cooking something or visiting among themselves. The vendors and participants were using a variety of tents some of which were merely a windbreak, or small shelter or what amounted to half a tent of some sort.
There were staged events all day and one group was dressed up in battle uniforms with red coats and white pants with muskets, knives, rank and all the rest of the normal regalia. It looked like a uniform similar to what they wore during the battle with the Americans from the 1800s although I’m not sure. It was interesting to watch nonetheless.
I wandered the site and watched some women baking bread in a clay oven or whatever you call it that was used hundreds of years ago, it looked like clay or some type of earthen oven. Artisans of all type were in their half tents scattered all over the camp making everything imaginable.
This was a Festival of History so there were sets where British soldiers were living as they would have at different periods throughout the preceding several hundred years. They were chopping wood, cooking for themselves on pots and dressed in uniforms of the times. One set even had a type of suit of armor or something similar, sort of Romanesque I believe
There was quite a focus on World War II as I saw jeeps, weapons, tents and uniforms as well as soldiers acting out scenes from the period. Interesting to watch as everyone seemed to really be in to it. Periodically a horn or something would sound signaling everyone to come to the center of the grounds where events were to be staged and a fighting scene or demonstration would be held. The soldiers reenacted various battle scenes and did quite a remarkable job.
I even saw a cannon and some shields with soldiers dressed from a period possible when the Romans were trying to gain a foothold in the kingdom or were being driven out, I’m not sure. What an interesting time what with all the history the Brits have to draw from it was entirely fascinating and this wasn’t the first or last of this type of event I was to attend during my time in England.
The larger tents were for staging some dancing, bands and actors as well as being a place to sell home made goods and crafts. I of course wandered in to see what was available and ended up grabbing a bit to eat, something that the Brits probably ate centuries ago. Some bread made in some sort of a kiln looking thing as well as some apple cider and a meat although I’m not sure what type. It was all good and after the food I spent quite a bit of time searching for the perfect souvenir. It was a great time and I’m glad I attended as I made a few friends and met people from various parts of the world as this type of event doesn’t just appeal to the British. Good thing as it was all in good fun and an excellent history lesson as well.
Festival of History pictures