Event report for Stoneleigh Park, August '04. A recreation of the battle of Naseby to coincide with the BBC series "Battle Britain"
Stoneleigh Park, Warks. 7-8 August 2004.A recreation of The Battle of Naseby to coincide with the BBC series "Battlefield Britain"
It was hot, hot, hot! Up to 92 degrees F. (33C) at one point.
With Fairfax arriving from about 2pm on the Friday, by 6pm that evening it was clear that we were going to have a good turn out, although it has to be said that some members were a little tardy in turning up! But arrive they did. Even Mistress Sarney made it, complete with broken leg earned on the battlefield at Oakwell. Brave lady.
Whilst Friday evening was all to do with arriving, settling down to Barbies and Beers, Saturday morning was taken with a run through of the planned scenario, some drill and some weapons testing to conform with Sealed Knot underwriters under whom we were being insured for the event.
It wasn't long before we were called up to form for the battle itself and it was clear that Fairfax were out in force with 2 wing of Musket and a solid 24 participants in the Pike Division, including our Dutch friends Ineke and Janny, (Rob was in the Musket Division) who had travelled over for the event. So we marched off, heads high to meet the enemy. During this we passed through some of these regiments, themselves waiting to form up and it was here that one of their members was heard to say, "My God, look at them. They're completely authentic, every single one of them!" Praise enough.
And then came the wait; Every soldier knows that the most common command in any army is "Hurry up and wait" It's normal, it happens. But it was damnably hot what! Eventually we did get going and marched onto the field. It was at this point that we started to get a sense of what going into battle for real might have been like. The field was huge and our enemy were a long way away, waiting, just waiting.
Slowly, Fairfax on the right flank (as they were in the real battle) of the combined Parliamentarian forces, moved with their SK comrades on the left flank against the forces of evil represented by other SK regiments and our sparring partners of old, The Marquis of Winchester's Regiment (who were spied with a couple of members of SK Bagshottes in their ranks, following, an informant tells me, their rescue on the road to the event by members of Winnies.) There were a lot of people on this field of battle further enhanced by cannon and cavalry, so now it wasn't only hot, but noisy and smelly as well. Erm, just like a real battle I guess.
The battle progressed, with Fairfax playing their part to stem the flow of Royalist aggression and bring the events to their historic conclusion. Typically, Walton's pikemen were in the forefront of this, making repeated forays into the jaws of the opposition to smite down the enemy.
And all of a sudden it was over, the cannon ceased and all that remained were the moans of the dying. Fairfax left the field to its grieving and returned to camp, losing more comrades on the way to exhaustion and heat. There we tended our wounds and prepared to fight another day.
Which was Sunday! Saturday was good, Sunday was brilliant. Waiting kept to a minimum, a good breeze to counteract the intensity of the Sun and the knowledge of the previous day all counted in favour of a good show. And it was; Movement was with better purpose and clarity, engagements were committed; The Musketeers, bless 'em, fired with precision and as one, resulting in a shattering explosion of power, smoke and noise; Pikemen, not smiling now, fought as a single unstoppable machine, ripping the heart out of the opposing forces and causing them to flee the field in total disorder.
We had won again, but this time the enemy knew why we had won.
During the two days, a small contingent of re-enactors led by Ingrid held down their pitch under a 300 year old Oak tree (mercifully broad under the Sun) and manned the publicity tent for the weekend. And of course the evenings went to schedule, with singing Foxes only marginally curtailed by marauding Devs.
I could swear that the loudest cheer was for Fairfax as they paraded past the thronged masses of public spectators. Can't be sure, but it seemed that way to me.
And what it surely proved, was that at the member level of each organisation, are people determined to make it happen, enjoy each other's company and have a good time. Many comments have been received from all involved that such determined co-operation is the way forward. Our thanks to the the officers of all the regiments, irrespective of affiliation, that 'made it happen'.Article by Ashley Kitson, aided and abetted by Mandy Holloway and Jo Cooper. August 2004