Saturday, 15 July 2017

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival - July 8/9th 2017

Mr Steve reports on the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

Their website does all the initial explaining for me:

“Tewkesbury Medieval Festival has been the high spot of Tewkesbury’s summer since 1984. It is now widely regarded as the largest free medieval gathering of its kind in Europe, and attracts re-enactors, traders and entertainers, and visitors from all over the world.

Its central attraction is a re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury, on part of the site of the original 1471 battlefield. Many of the participants including wives and children live as a medieval army in authentic medieval encampments for the whole weekend.

The event features a wide range of period entertainment, including music, dance and drama as well as a collection of fascinating characters from the past. These may include barber surgeons, preachers and even the odd dragon keeper and an exhibition tent with displays from organisations specialising in different aspects of history.

The town centre is bustling with associated events and the streets are decorated with dozens of authentic medieval banners for the festival period.

Best of all, despite its size and popularity, entry to Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is free, and its hard working volunteer directors are determined to keep it that way.”

Every January for the last few years I have written this event onto my calendar (yes I still do this, none of that electronic nonsense for me) but have never gone, either its too far to go, it’s too cold, or it conflicts with club, but this year I actually went.

And I am glad I did.

First thing is, get there early, I arrived around an hour after it opened and I just managed to squeeze into the 2nd overflow car park which meant I now had a bit of a walk to get to the event (actually quite a bit), you do pay for parking (£5) but it does go towards the cost of the festival. Having never been before I had no idea what to expect or where it was being held so when I finally arrived I saw a large field stretching out in front of me filled with rows of tents. Once past the handful of hippies selling Dream interpretations and Shakra re- alignment you get to the multi-rows of tents selling everything a respectable medieval peasant who had more dung than he knew what to do with could
possibly want. Replica Weapons of all sorts, clothing for the military and the civilian, arts and crafts (I did see a very nice pottery tankard for £10), yet more weapons, more clothing etc etc.


Add in the areas for weapon displays, assorted dancing (mainly with sticks), period music, numerous children’s entertainment, historical information tents and of course food and drink concessions. It was a very big field.

When I was a boy you could play football in the street without armour
Various other sub-fields were festooned with medieval tents where the re-enactors put on
the usual Medieval living experience as well as being used for their camping.

My day was therefore split 50/50 between queueing for food and watching the main battle, Ok, there was also some shopping but apart from buying a bumper sticker (my other car’s a hay-cart) and deciding that I probably didn't need any more battle axes it was mainly queueing.

 360 view from the ice cream queue
Whoops! Almost forgot, I did go on an abbreviated battlefield guided tour which was excellent, I am sorry but I did not take a note of the guides name but he does regular walks of the battle throughout the year. (See below)

Our guide in front of the deer park

Myself and fifty-nine others gathered just outside the festival entrance where he outlined the events leading up to the battle, then we walked up a lane to roughly opposite the Deer Park and the Gastons fields where we stopped for a brief synopses of the battle itself, returning back to the small field by the Festival main entrance to what may have been the Bloody Meadow.

Overall very good and I intend to make a special journey later this year for the full walk and tour.

So onto the Battle:

Queueing for ice creams meant I was late to the battle

In a field adjoining the main festival and supposedly set on part of the actual battlefield itself (oddly surprisingly missing from the previous tour) we had a recreation of the Battle of Tewksbury. We did have a distinguished compare for the day, Professor Ronald Hutton who gave a stirring description of the history and characters involved and which was suitably altered to suit the very large crowd of non-history types that had gathered, before he handed over to one of the re-enactors who covered the actual battle description.

Ronald Hutton

There were apparently 2000 re-enactors taking part and which included contingents from France, Belgium and Germany who have been coming over especially for this event for many years. (coming over here taking our re-enactors jobs!).

Some French tourists

The battle itself I found both interesting and disappointing. Firstly the shear number of people involved was super impressive, most of whom were in very shiny armour on a hot day, this was re-enactment done on a big scale and visually it looked fantastic. Worth going just to see it.

Lancastrian army

Unfortunately the battle followed the usual course I have seen at every re-enactment. First one group moves forward and fights, it falls back, another group advances and does the same. Both sides then move forward and they all fight. Both sides fall back, Then it starts all over again. Normally it is interspersed with cannons and Pony Club but we only had cannons this time and a lot of archers.

Yorkist archers

Despite their best efforts in the commentary I didn't believe that I was seeing a recreation of the battle of Tewkesbury however I do realise why they do it this way. Still it was well done and it was impressive.

I left before the end and so missed the Italian flag wavers who were up next. (obvious joke to be inserted here).

Overall Impression: Excellent day out and the town itself was magnificently lined throughout with appropriate flags flying from every building.

One suggestion: bring a picnic.

I can recommend the mead tent, please tell me you can see him to?

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is usually held on the 2nd Weekend of July

This has been a day out with Mr Steve


  1. LOL the last photo. Many years ago at the Fair a "friend of a friend" had a cider tent - there were people lying all around his tent - it looked like a massacre - he had been selling Perry marked at 6% that was actually 26%!! He was never invited back

    1. Hi Alan, 26%, that sounds more like Calvados than Perry. I bet it had some legs on it when that got swirled around the glass!!