Review by Tamu and family.
A day at England’s Medieval Festival
These two young royals, their grandparents, and I were lucky enough to experience England’s enchanting Medieval Festival this summer in the magnificent grounds of Herstmonceux Castle.
On arrival we were met with the gorgeous view of a sea of canvas tents beautifully pitched around the main arena. A crowd had already formed and as we got nearer we realised a jousting tournament was in full swing!
The kids wriggled their way to the front and we enjoyed an awesomely potent performance put on by big men on powerful horses, all authentically dressed in medieval jousting costume. Fabulous! There were many intakes of breath by the crowd, including my Mum, and the kids were transfixed. This was our welcome to England’s Medieval Festival and what a way to greet the crowds!
We learnt from fellow festival goers, dressed in wonderful robes and what looked like very heavy armour, that the falconry display was next. So, despite our impatience to explore, we decided to stay put as we had a keen 7 year-old animal lover with us and the stunning birds of prey did not disappoint.
A famous Swedish actress set the scene as she serenely roamed the arena like a medieval princess. She beautifully showcased the birds holding them as if she had done it her whole life. The audience was fascinated and my son didn’t lose concentration once during the lengthy and exciting show.
I, on the other hand, could not help being distracted by the awesome crowd, a lot of whom were dressed to the nines in fascinating costume. It is one of those festivals that attracts all walks of life but has a strong essence of the medieval age and many guests make a real effort. You can’t help feeling transported back in time and even though we were only visiting for the day it’s clear that some guests spent the whole weekend totally immersed in the past at this unique location.
Our 9 year-old loves all things crafty and there are a whole host of activities to have a go at during a visit to England’s Medieval Festival. Unlike many festivals the activities have levels of skill involved so are perfect for adults and crafty tweens and teens. You have have a go at blacksmithing, arrow making, chain-mailing, book binding and many other things. My daughter opted for brass rubbing and set to work immediately, guided by the sweet and helpful stall owner in the main marque which was full of interesting stalls to explore.
Next it was time to explore the lower field and the magnificent castle itself, and what an extraordinary pair they made!! The castle is breath-taking and the Living History field, full of more bohemian tents, was a bustling, musical frenzy of movement. Bands were playing music from the Middle Ages – quirky lyrical tunes. A group of medieval friends and their lady were huddled deep in conversation on the bridge, apparently putting the world to rights. On the moat, festival goers were splashing about in traditional coracles – enticing handmade floating devices – which we would all have loved to try but there just wasn’t enough time in the day.
We really were in awe of our surroundings, the kids were skipping around with joy, and we had not even reached the kids area which sounded great but we just ran out of time.
The grounds of England’s Medieval Festival are huge and there is so much to see and do it’s impossible to do it in a day. The campsite looked lovely, overlooking the castle. Glamping is available as well as an onsite B&B, and even the option to stay in the castle! How magical would that be?
We were sad to have to leave but as we headed for the gates we were met by an entire band of drummers sending day-visitors on their merry way. The fondest farewell we’d ever received.
There is so much more to explore for families at this wonderful festival, including princess and warrior schools, tag archery, grand parades, and of course, the huge battles in front of the castle. Although we missed both of the daily battles we could hear the canons and gun fire from across the festival site and it really added to the atmosphere.
Even if you are not that into History you can’t help but love this day out as something totally different to do with all the family.
Take a look at our festival fact sheet here for more info and save 10% on 2019 tickets with our discount code.