Do your kids find history boring? Do you struggle to get them engaged with the past? We found the perfect solution! We spent a weekend joining the English Civil War Society for their re-enactment weekend at Newport Pagnell. As my aunties are musketeers, we were lucky enough to be able to see behind the scenes as well.
The aim of the ECWS is to bring history to life for people, and boy do they do a good job of that! They had events running throughout the day on the main field, culminating in a full blown, hour long battle in the afternoon. They also had a living history village next to the field that was open between 10am and 5pm for you to stroll around and get immersed in life in the 17th century.
I’ve been to several of these events over the years to see my aunties in action and it was so brilliant to see my children loving it just as much as I always did. Everything is authentic, the clothing, the weapons, the cooking and even the methods used to make the food, the ingredients, the knitting patterns for the socks etc.
They had some absolutely fantastic demos of sword fighting going on in the living village. I actually learnt loads too. For example, when you think ‘ruffian’ you think thug, or yob but in actual fact, ruffians were very wealthy and well dressed and got their nickname from the large ruffs they wore. They favoured rapier swords, a very long, thin pointy sword from Italy.
There were also ‘swash bucklers’, pirates? Not at all! They were men who thought that the English made very sharp and very lethal swords were the best and would carry a buckle, a small round shield, and bang on it, or ‘swash’ it, to let others know they were up for a scrap.
They both believed that their weapons were the best and the only way to prove it? Fight of course! After a night on the mead, large groups would congregate in areas around London and fight. I always thought they would just kill each other, but actually, that would be murder, and so they would just duel to first blood.
Groups of lads heading out after a night on the booze for a bit of a rumble to see who’s the strongest, times have really changed from then huh?! 😀
We spent a long time in the ‘bedroom tent’, looking at the globe and hearing about the reason that Australia wasn’t there, it hadn’t even been discovered yet. In it’s place, there were some creepy sea monsters drawn in the empty patch of sea. We also got a chance to try writing with a feather quill and saw some beautiful embroidery that some of the members of the group spend hours recreating.
There was so much that we didn’t get a chance to see it all properly, but there was a kitchen, basket weaving, a black smith, a games tent, which was proving a real hit with the children, more used to pokemon go probably, but they were loving these simple games!
And the battle? Superb! Canons were fired, muskets went off, pike men clashed, the horses of the cavalry charged and the whole thing under an authentic cloud of smoke. We loved every minute, I’ve never seen the kids so glued to anything for an hour straight, even the torrential rain half way through did nothing to dampen the spirits! (Just the clothes!)
What we learnt about our time with the society; it’s so much fun and really brings history to life for all ages. They are a really great crowd and the social scene is a big factor of it. There was a big communal bbq in the evening and everyone was really welcoming to us. There are some really strong friendships in the group and it was so much more then something people just turn up to every now and again, for a lot of people it’s a big part of their life and their social scene.
I’d probably describe it as a festival for history lovers! If you get a chance, I really recommend these events for bringing history to life for children and adults alike, we had a brilliant time and will definitely be going to event more regularly, especially once the children start doing history in school.