Based in our Iron Age round house, Caroline Nicolay will be demonstrating traditional methods and materials of construction and decoration from around the second to first century BC. Tom Timbrell will be jumping forward to the second to third centuries AD as a Roman Cutler, showing the tools and techniques used to make knives and cutlery, and asking what this might reveal about the societies and beliefs of the time.
An opportunity to sample the sights, sounds and smells of the past.
Our living history encampments range from the Stone Age through to the Second World War and offer an opportunity to sample the sights, sounds and smells of the past. Our historians are all experts in their field and are actively learning more about our predecessors from the process of living with and using the materials of earlier ages.
There will be a number of scheduled talks and displays but all our living historians are happy to talk at any time and share their extraordinary – and often unique – knowledge.
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Living History confirmed for 2024
Remaking History: The Prittlewell Burial
In 2003, archaeologists made an extraordinary discovery at a plot in Prittlewell, near Southend-on-Sea. They uncovered an Anglo-Saxon princely burial chamber, filled with rare artefacts including a gold belt buckle, gaming counters, a huge cauldron and a wooden lyre. This year, our extraordinarily skilled craftspeople will be remaking history by recreating the burial chamber and some of the burial goods discovered at Prittlewell. This will be an absolutely unique opportunity to see heritage crafts in action and to discover the historical insights that practical craftsmanship can bring. Make sure to follow their progress throughout the week!
We are thrilled to be joined by Historic Equitation, a team of historical interpreters and equestrians led by renowned horseman, Dominic Sewell. Historic Equitation will be at the festival all week demonstrating the social, economic and military importance of horses throughout history, from the rise of the mounted knight to the spectacular horsemanship of the 17th century. Don’t miss their showstopping arena display on Saturday and Sunday!
Life in the Iron Age
Have you ever wondered how people lived in the Iron Age? This is your chance to find out. Based in our Iron Age round house, experiential archaeologist and living history interpreter Caroline Nicolay will be demonstrating Iron Age daily life and traditional construction methods.
The 17th-Century Sailmaker
Led by professional sailmaker and craftsperson Sarah Liscoe, this fascinating display will portray a travelling master sailmaker tending to ships, fishing boats, and windmills. This is a rare opportunity to see the typical skills of making and repairing sails, rope work, and life on board a ship in the 17th century. There will also be a chance to get hands on with a working model of a sailing square sail rig, knots and rope work, and sewing.
A Merrie Noyse
A Merrie Noyse will be transporting us back to the Tudor and Elizabethan courts as they entertain us with historic music and dance, playing a variety of authentic copies of instruments of the day.
Living History from 2023
Among the vast array of wonderful living history men and women at the Festival here is just a taste:
1200 BC – 300 AD
500 - 1500 AD
Our Medieval encampment will be the centerpiece of the festival, and it’s not to be missed.
During the festival weekend, the Medieval encampment will feature a full joust, as well as a range of other activities and demonstrations. You’ll have the chance to watch skilled knights battle it out on horseback, and you’ll learn about the history and culture of the Middle Ages.
In addition to the joust, the Medieval encampment will also feature a range of immersive experiences, including living history exhibits, sword fighting demonstrations, and much more. From his Time Traveller’s Kitchen, Alex Compiani will be cooking Medieval-style, using ingredients and recipes from the Middle Ages and casting fresh light on the culture and society of the day.
This is a rare opportunity to experience history up close and to immerse yourself in the world of the Middle Ages.
500 - 1500 AD
1066 - 1485
A series of activities for the young and aspiring medieval warrior. Both boys and girls can try their hands at Sword School, Mini-Jousting, Have-a-Go-Archery, and also demolish a castle wall with a Junior Trebuchet!
For more details see EXPERIENCES.
1486 - 1603:
Tastes Through Time will be taking you back to Tudor times, telling stories of herbs and medicines, cloth and wool. Learn how the wool trade was one of England’s most lucrative trades in the sixteenth centuries. Their demonstrations of spinning and how to dye natural fibres using natural materials are not to be missed.
1486 - 1603:
Deeds of Arms will be demonstrating life as part of a British Navy crew in 1805, from the mess to the gunnery and navigation to semaphore signalling.
1939 - 1945
There will be a large number of vehicles and living historians throughout the week, including the following:
The Garrison Volunteers
Will be demonstrating the drills and live firing techniques of the Royal Artillery in the war, including a heavy 3.7-inch anti-aircraft gun, searchlight and anti-tank guns.
Royal Navy Beachhead Commandos
Will be at the festival all week demonstrating the skills of some of the Royal Navy’s elite warriors.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Will be joining us at the weekend to share the history of the Gurkhas during the Second World War, plus battle drills and re-enactments.
We will be running a number of talks and demonstrations over the festival weekend. The Second World War brought unprecedented change to farming in Britain and in many ways it caused a second agricultural revolution, the consequences of which are still being felt to this day.
1939 - 1945
1947 - 1991
Our British Army Cold War team will be recreating a command post that includes signals, weaponry and command and control.