Tuesday, June 4, 2013

St Alfege Millennium Festival, 2012

Blogging the Angelcynn show I attended a few weeks back caused me to go hunting through my photographs for this show, which in turn reminded me of what an amazing show the Millennium of St Alfege in 2012 was. Hence, an extremely belated write-up.

St Alfege Church, Greenwich. Photograph by Caroline Williams.
Although we regularly re-enact bloody battles, in some ways this was one of the more gruesome shows I've been involved in, due to its subject matter. According to ecclesiastical history, in 1012 the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Alfege, was ransomed by the Danes, but refused to let his flock pay his ransom as he knew they barely had enough money to survive. The Danes then stoned him to death, frustrated at his refusal to pay up. He was canonised in 1078. 2012 was therefore the millennium of his martyrdom, and  St Alfege, Greenwich hired Regia to come down and put on a five day living history display.

St Alfege would have been brought to Greenwich by boat, therefore we took "The Bear", our long-ship down.

"The Bear", most recently seen in "The Vikings". Photograph by Caroline Williams.

Photograph by Caroline Williams.

Regia's display started on Wednesday, as the church had arranged for the local schools to come and visit the site. Sadly I couldn't make it down during the week, but Tigwald and Toki from De Vey were able to do all five days. Much to our delight though, a lot of the children who had come with their school in the week brought back their friends and family at the weekend.

Also to everybody's excitement, we were asked to recreate the martyrdom of St Alfege in front of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Regia is lucky enough to have several people who do the ecclesiastical side of things, so we put on a very enthusiastic display, pelting the man who is normally our Lawspeaker with a variety of objects. I can't imagine why, but the real archbishop declined to be the object of this display.

I haven't found any photos of the actual martyrdom, but someone did capture an image of the nuns caring for the battered bishop:

Photo by Jane Wheatley.

Before we killed him, we also had a ceremony to elevate one of the Regia bishops to Archbishop. Rumour has it that Rowan Williams was slightly jealous of the swanky 11th century bishop's kit. Note how little ecclesiastical clothing has changed in the intervening millennium. Modern clerics are essentially still dressed the way people did a thousand years ago. Although the presumably wash their clothes more often.

Elevation to Archbishop. Photo by Jane Wheatley.

The Regia nuns, together with Conroi de Vey's Bishop Tigwald in blue, next to Regia's Archbishop. Photo by Jane Wheatley.

Definite contrast in colour schemes. Photo by Jane Wheatley.

The ecclesiastical display. Note the blue chasuble and deep red and purple cloth on the tables. These  are all immensely expensive colours, especially in that quantity. Rich colours like this would usually just be used as decoration on cheaper fabrics. The highest ranks of the clergy were some of the wealthiest people in the land. Archaeologists have even found gold-leafed leather shoes belonging to a bishop! Photograph by Caroline Williams.
We also had a great LHE (living history encampment) at this show. I don't have photographs of most of it, but between us we had a moneyer, a musician, several woodworkers (making bowls, ship's prows, and carved panels), a food display complete with quernstone, embroidery, and half a dozen other things that I've forgotten.

Brother Tigwald at his lathe. Photograph by Caroline Williams.

When complete this will be one of the wallpanels at our long-hall, Wychurst. Photograph by Caroline Williams.
Hand-carved wooden panel. Photograph by Caroline Williams.
We also had the usual archery and military displays over the weekend, but they don't happen out of hours, which is when I do my photography, so sadly I don't have photographs of them. There is a good flickr stream by a member of the public and at least one public blog with photos from the event, including one of Tigwald and Toki being "manly with axes".

Overall this was a fantastic show. The church had put in so much work to organising and advertising the event, so we had an endless stream of interested and interesting public to talk to, and it was great to be able to contribute to their celebrations.

No comments:

Post a Comment