Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Going back into the past again this year

A couple of years ago my daughter and I were invited to England's Medieval Festival in East Sussex. Since then we've enjoyed visiting each year. I was wondering if a medieval festival would have much to offer, as I'm mainly a 'chill, listen to bands and have a drink in a field' sort of festival goer normally. But I was very pleasantly surprised.

Ways that England's Medieval Festival is like all other festivals

  • Camping. There is a nice campsite, with options of family camping, glamping and normal camping. The car park is close to the campsite. 
  • Portable toilets. Yes, sorry folks, there are plastic portable loos on site and in the camping area.
  • Food. Plenty of excellent street type food is on offer, and it's not all medieval hog roasts (though they do usually have a hog roasting by the beer tent). Food ranged from vegan curries, through chips and sausages, paella, seafood, and waffles. They had fried potato swirls on a stick! And the castle tea rooms are open too, serving cream teas, sandwiches and jacket potatoes.
  • Drink. Your medieval crew drank more beer than water, so you are on to a winner here. Plenty of real ales and a lager or two on offer along with wines and soft drinks at the many beer tents, bars and taverns around the site. And of course there is plenty of mead, almost certainly made by monks (may be a lie) and delicious over ice on a hot day. For those that don't like an alcoholic drink there is a fresh lemonade stand too.
  • Entertainment. While there were fewer rock groups and boy bands in medieval times, they make up for it with mud theatre (as messy as it sounds), jousting, hawking displays, story telling, and some gentle lute playing. And of course the foot stomping folk bands each evening. (perfect with a real ale and the dance partner of your choice)
  • Shopping. An entire shopping village awaits. Everything from mead to take home (or to drink back at your tent) to suits of armour, archery kits, pots, clothes, and even furniture! Be prepared to buy a few things, lots of great medieval toys too for the kids.
  • Fancy dress. Many people at the festival will be in medieval dress. From nobility to peasant and visitors are actively encouraged to join in. Embrace your inner princess or knight, your damsel or rogue, grab your drinking horn (or buy one at the festival) and participate in the medieval merriment.

Ways that England's Medieval Festival is different to other festivals

  • There are actual indoor rooms and bed and breakfast options onsite! Stay at a festival with the luxuries of home.
  • There are free indoor shower and toilet facilities. They are a fair walk from the main campsite, but there is a sports hall type shower and toilet area so you can have a nice hot wash and feel much fresher than your medieval ancestors ever did.
  • Living history. There is a fabulous living history village on site, wander among the tents of vikings and medieval Britons alike, discover wool dying methods, taste bread baked fresh in old fashioned ovens or attend sword school to learn to be a knight.
  • Plays. There are lots of plays taking place at the medieval festival, wandering players and minstrels and also staged tales. Well worth a watch.
  • Kid's Kingdom. Mini versions of the adult fun. Learn archery, watch a dragon puppet show or try your hand at making a medieval crown or dagger (only wooden!) Various crafts and games are available all day.
  • Parades. Watch the King and Queen parade through the castle grounds.
  • Battle reenactments. Watch a battle featuring a trebuchet and real arrows at the gates of a real castle! Hang onto your hats as cannon fire and gunshots ring out, watch the dead dragged form the battle field (to miraculously fight another day)
  • A real castle and gardens. Only Camp Bestival can compete with a castle, but even at Camp Bestival you cannot venture into the castle, or explore a delightful walled garden with giant sundial. Drift around in your finery and imagine you are royalty...
So I shall be going back again this year, and once more, I'll be hoping for sunshine, and a chance to lay in a field, sipping mead, listening to the sound of hoof beats on sunbaked grass while watching handsome knights fight for my pleasure. I hope you can join me!

The festival takes place at Herstmonceaux, East Sussex over the weekend of August 25th, 26th. 27th.

Grab tickets online , day tickets available, but to fully experience the festival I advise staying onsite. 

England's Medieval Festival in East Sussex

Have you got plans sorted for the weekend?

It's a Bank Holiday in the UK (for those of you that live in foreign climes that equates to a day of rest for many of the people that usually have a 9-5 toil) and I am one of many that will be enjoying a long weekend. In the UK it is also tradition that Bank Holiday Mondays are wet.

However as we have seen from previous festival news, this year has been one of broken traditions, it even rained at Camp Bestival! (unheard of in it's previous 9 year history) so it's no surprise to see that the sun will be shining all weekend at Hersmonceaux this weekend.

If you live any where near Herstmonceaux (it's in East Sussex) and you are not planning a trip to England's Medieval festival for at least one day (camping is available and camp site opens at 2pm today!) then you are missing out!

 Tickets are available at the gate and the festival is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Last year I was glad I camped as there were so many fun things to do that invariably some clashed, as the program was repeated daily, I could be sure to fit everything into a busy schedule (and repeat the things I really loved!)

Do pop along, fancy dress is optional (but fun) and children of all ages can learn sword skills, jousting, bread making and a thousand other medieval skills!

You can even bring the dog.

 I hope to see you there for mead, singing, mud theatre (don't worry - it's mostly mess free!), and hog roasts..oh and shopping...

Win free tickets for an amazing Medieval Festival!

If you had a TARDIS where would you go? Not just in space, but in time?

Last year I went back in time for a weekend to a festival in the grounds of a castle and I lived the life of a medieval peasant for a few days at Englands Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux. Maybe I was a bit of an historically inaccurate peasant to be fair, I had elastic in my underwear, but it was a fun weekend!

win family tickets to england's medieval festival

I learned lots about weaving and wool dyeing. I was thrilled by the battle reenactment (seeing arrows raining down was pretty dramatic!) I drank mead and watched hogs being roasted, my daughter and I laughed at the mud theatre and were in awe of the knights at the joust. And of course I loved dressing up to fit the part.

herstmonceux medieval festival

If you love to dress up, like history (or have kids that like horrible histories), camping, food, festivals or fun this is the festival for you! You can join in as much as you like, dress up and wander the encampments, chatting to the vikings, or just lay in the sun with some cider and a magazine while festival drums and music play around you, the choice is yours.

children at a medieval festival learning sword skills

And if you think that sounds like your tankard of ale then you can win tickets for the entire family here on the blog! (camping included - bring your own tent!)

Yes I am providing you with your very own TARDIS (It's faulty obviously - you can only go to Herstmonceux , and England's Medieval Festival in it, but beggars can't be choosers!) so grab the family and get your medieval 'glad rags' on. Good Luck!

The family weekend festival tickets are worth an amazing £250
The Festival dates are 26th - 28th August so if you are free then - why not enter the giveaway!

2017 will be the largest event the castle has ever seen and will celebrate 25 years of England’s Medieval Festival. To share in this special silver anniversary the festival are offering 25 couples celebrating their own 25th wedding anniversary free festival tickets so spread the word.

‘Step back in time and join the spectacular celebration’

And if you just can't wait (or only want to pop in for a day) you can also get 10% off your England's Medieval Festival ticket price using the code MUMS10 at the checkout 

young girl dressed as a princess with sword at a medieval festival

Disclosure : I will be attending the festival as a guest. But all words and thoughts about the festival are my own

25 Amazing Years

Yes I've been married 25 years this year! I know, I don't look old enough etc etc

Unfortunately Mr Tentsniffer is more of a Hotel-lover than a tentsniffer and so while we share a marriage we rarely share a tent! Which just goes to show that time apart is at least as important as time together.

But whether you and your beloved camp together or spend weekends apart, and even if you have no significant other, if you like festivals, fields and fun of a historical nature you need to be thinking about England's Medieval Festival who are also celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year! (and if you are celebrating 25 years of marriage too - click the link as there are some FREE tickets available for you!)

England's Medieval Festival

So an extra special festival of historical fun and frolics in the English countryside is planned in August and it's not something you should miss. I went for the first time last year, and can vouch for the relaxed nature, the wealth of shopping experiences, the delicious mead and the excellent entertainment for kids and adults alike!

The more warlike of your kids may enjoy sword school or archery, or even axe throwing! While the gentler children can watch puppet shows, magic shows, and laugh (from a safe distance) at the mud theatre.

England's Medieval Festival 2017 from England's Medieval Festival on Vimeo.

Tickets are available for weekend camping,  (and I advise this as there is lots to see and do and you really need more than one day, plus it's camping!!) glamping, and day visits. Use my special discount code MUMS10 to get 10% off your ticket price! (enter the code at the checkout) and if you book early you will get early bird discount too! (early bird prices valid until 31st March but 10% off code works anytime)

Dogs are allowed and medieval dress is encouraged.

dog dressed as a jester

A day out at the Weald and Downland open air museum in Sussex

Some time ago Mr Tentsniffer and I bought annual membership at the Weald and Downland Museum as it's fairly close to where we live and is dog friendly. It is a brilliant historical resource but it's also set in such glorious countryside that it's nice just to stroll around and admire the changing of the seasons.
horses and tractors ploughing

This Sunday they had an autumn countryside event and we went along for a couple of hours.

Sadly our small dog is having her first season and our teen has a horrible cold - so they stayed at home. But Mr Tentsniffer and I had a great time, we were able to watch birds of prey, ducks being rounded up by dogs, a steam threshing machine, ploughing - both tractors and horses - and so many other things!

Mr Tentsniffer bought two new wool jumpers and I bought some chilli cider. I was delighted with my delicious Bubble and Squeak lunch, served with a poached egg, hollandaise sauce and bacon, while Mr Tentsniffer had his favourite traditional sausage roll from the Podgy Pieman.
wood working sign pimps faggots and benders

wooden wine bottle holders

wine tables wooden for garden

We watched morris dancers as we ate. Then prowled the craft stalls, before driving home. It was a really love;y day, great weather and so many nice dogs to see, including numerous border terriers, I look forward to taking Fizz again.

Did you get up to anything fun this weekend? Pop over to Facebook and let me know.

England's Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux - review

I've been promoting England's Medieval Festival on this blog for a few weeks. And now here is the review...

I tweeted a bit while I was there. see the tweets here

And now I'm back and I can tell you all about it.

First thing to say, it was WAY better than I thought it would be. Seriously, the website doesn't do it justice. The gorgeous castle and grounds alone would be an awesome place to camp, but throw in tavern tents, real ale, reenactments, and all manner of entertainments from mud theatre (as messy as it sounds) to fire eating, puppet shows, bird of prey displays, jousting, even 'have a go' jousting..

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016 mud theatre

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

And then there was great food, living history village encampments, archery, sword shows, music, drumming (lots of drumming) even axe throwing.

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

I loved the camp site. We could drive right up to the camping spot and unload before moving the car to the car parking area. There were not a huge number of toilets but they were kept clean and well stocked at all times. Water points too, were a bit spread out but again not really a problem.

In the evenings after the 'day visitors' had left the festival site reopened with music and dancing and outdoor cinema and astronomy talks and stargazing for those camping.

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016 castle

Each day the program of events is repeated and this worked out really well as while you might think it's all a bit repetitive, in fact it meant we didn't need to rush between events that were close in time but not distance and if something clashed we just did it the next day. Over the three days we managed to see and do almost everything.

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016 sign post

This festival is a little gem, bigger than you think it will be and excellent value for money. I shall have no hesitation in booking tickets for next year which is going to be the 25th year and promises an extra special celebration (I'm hoping for a medieval bake off event)

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016 knight

I learned lots about history almost by accident, things such as the weight of armour, how chain mail is worn, how arrows are used in battle, the dying of wool (and the political take on wearing certain colours) I found just strolling around chatting to people really informative, and people were all so friendly! I don't think I've ever been to such a friendly festival (this may be linked to the accessibility of mead and real ale)

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016 children
England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016 princess

I spend plenty of cash in the medieval traders market too (some traders did accept medieval credit cards!) Where you could buy anything from a full suit of armour, to an animal pelt, a drinking horn or some jewellery.
England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

The festival is dog friendly so I took Fizz and while she was slightly overawed by the noise and bustle of the crowds she mostly enjoyed herself. The festival site is really well stocked with water points and dog bowls so despite the heat all of the dogs were well hydrated.


dog under a sunshade

Having a dog did mean I couldn't go to any of the medieval banquets though, and so I'm debating leaving her at home next year so I can get my full medieval cosplay into gear and mix with the royal court over a trencher of chicken and roasted figs etc...

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

England's Medieval Festival Herstmonceux 2016

Find out more at the England's Medieval Festival website, I hope to see you there next year.

Disclosure : I was sent free tickets for DD and myself in exchange for the promotion of the festival but the review is my own unbiased view.

Festival Checklist and some Festivals you may have missed


I'm well into my festival season, I hope you've been to at least one, or are about to! I'm looking forward to reviewing all of the ones I attend but until then, here's a list to keep you busy - maybe you'll find a festival to attend? Or to pencil in for next year.

England's Medieval Festival

Close your eyes wait, don't, you need to read this ...OK just imagine (really clearly in your head but while still reading) a distant past, the thud of horses' hooves, the smell of hog roasting over an open fire (feel free to imagine an apple baking if you are vegetarian) the sound of cheering, of metal on metal, shouts, music played on a mandolin, singing and the squeal of excited children, the slosh of ale into a tankard.....

medieval festival england jousting

Now see the sunshine, the green grass, tents with the canvas door flaps cracking in the summer breeze like whips, flags fluttering, horses standing resplendant in red and white livery, shining armour glinting so you have to blink, and when you open your eyes again, a princess in flowing gown and pearls is laughing and dancing by you...

medieval festival england

and now stop imagining!! You can experinece it all! You can travel back in time for a weekend and live relaxed, your day managed only by the height of the sun in the sky and your desire for your next cider. Your children (and you and even your dog) can learn archery (ok the dog can't do all the stuff but you get the idea) , watch falconry, battle reenactments, jousting, listen to music, dance, eat, relax, at a truly medieval festival.

child in stocks medieval festival england
Not sure the childcare is particularly safe!

And you can WIN TICKETS!!

Yes you read that correctly - I have a set of Weekend Camping Tickets  (2 Adults/2 Child or 3 Adults) worth £250 including up to 4 nights camping from 26th August and entry to every day of the festival for a lucky person (and friends/family) and all you need to do is enter via the RaffleCopter thingy below. (UK only - ends 2nd July 2016 full T&Cs in the giveaway box)

If you win you can add even more excitement to the day with extra events - more info here - including things like VIP seating for the jousting and banqueting!

Englands Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle

August 27th – 29th 2016 Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex
Family day tickets from £46
Family weekend tickets from £230
‘What an incredible experience. We felt like we really had gone back in time!’

Step back in time and immerse your family in the spectacular magic of the past.
England’s Medieval Festival is the most authentic, oneofakind event in the UK with a very special blend of history and fun for the whole family.
From the moment you arrive you are surrounded by the sights, smells and excitement of medieval times.
Realistic historical battles, jousting, performers, horses, archery, music, traditional crafts, eating, drinking, shopping and daytoday life of the past. Herstmonceux Castle is a fairy tale setting for a totally different family weekend. Wizards, jesters, knights, dragons and princesses await the kids.
Guests can enjoy medieval glamping, standard camping in the castle grounds, or even a real bed in the onsite B&B. Or just come for the day.
With so much to see and do, it’s easy to see why so many guests return year after year, and now bring their own children to share the magic.
Grandparents, babies and even the pet dog are welcome!


Highlights of the Weekend include
Jousting – twice daily shows
Musical entertainment – traditional, folk and everything in between
Daily grand parades, and an evening torch lit procession
Minstrels, Magicians and 'The Mud Show' Jesters,
Jugglers and Bird of Prey
Kids’ Kingdom: drum, sword and jester schools, archery, medieval bushcraft, stage shows, pony rides, medieval skittles and crafts, campfire storytelling and stargazing.
Workshops: chain mailing, iron work, wood weaving, calligraphy, brass rubbing, candle making, stone carving Hundreds of traditional craftsmen and traders
Outdoor evening Cinema,
Fire Shows and a wooden Ferris Wheel
Huge range of craft ales, ciders & mead at the Buxom Wench & Jester Taverns
Excellent traditional food savour hogs roasting over open coals
Medieval Banquet in the castle
Stunning surroundings in the beautiful castle gardens and grounds.

Disclosure : I'm as excited as you are! I've never been before and was offered free tickets this year to check out this fabulous sounding festival and all it has to offer, grab your suit of armour, mount your white charger, I'll see you there!

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