Lots of praise for Tudor Kentwell 1556- two weeks in

We are now two weeks into our Re-Creation of Tudor Kentwell 1556, and this year has proved to be one of our most energetic and entertaining Re-Creations yet.

As well as 250 plus Tudors going about their everyday life, we are holding different events on each of our main weekends. So far, we've held Midsummer Celebrations and a Pageant, and on our last weekend (Fri 6th to Sun 8th July) we will hold a Tudor Fair with lots of games, music and entertainment to take part in. Discounted advance tickets are available online. This will be the last chance to visit Tudor Kentwell 1556 so don't miss out!

Midsummer Celebrations

We held a fantastic celebration of Midsummer up at the barns over the traditional days of Midsummer Eve (24th June) and Midsummer Day (25th June) which were joyous days in the Tudor Calendar. This involved lots of wicker and fire, drumming and dancing. We had a procession via the Magic Hornbeam Circle which stands on the compass points (very important), via the Well (casting good luck charms on water was propitious) up to the Oak circle at the Barns where the Nine Sacred Saxon Simples (herbs) were cast on the fire. Visitors could throw their own pine-cone into the fire with a wish attached and joined in to help our dancing celebrations really take off!

The Protestants had sought to ban these festivities but the advent of Mary revived them for a time, but by the early 17th Century all such fun had been banned (including Christmas, MayDay and Theatres). Burning of bonfires (actually bone fires) was a centrepiece as this represented the Son and to keep witches and dragons away (both believed to be abroad on these days). We burnt three fires one of bones one of wood called a Wake Fire which had to burn through the night for those awake and one of mixed bone and wood for St John's Day, a Christian attempt to subsume Midsummer into A Christian celebration. The wicker man originally contained a malefactor who was burnt alive but it became more symbolic of burning evil.

The Pageant

Last weekend we held a 're-creation within a re-creation'. Our Tudors re-created the Battle of Agincourt to celebrate the betrothal of the Dowager widow of the house to a local Sudbury man. Our 'tourney field' was full of swordfights, archery, horses, the evil French (boo hiss!) represented ably by children on hobby horses and triumphant English knights (huzzah!).

Most families were anxious to have a widow re-marry at the earliest moment, sometimes within a few weeks of the death of her late husband or they would have to support her. We had a great Procession conveying the widow to the meeting point with her betrothed. Gentry sang a composition written for the occasion and danced; the Herald declaimed a sonnet for the happy couple and peasants danced and sang for them too. The Battle of Agincourt was a popular theme in Tudor times because although the French outnumbered the English by about 10:1, the English prevailed!

Fantastic reviews

We've had some fantastic reviews for our 2012 event from the public and school children alike. You can see a few on tripadvisor here. Here are extracts from a couple of them:

"If you want a fabulous day out, and I mean a whole day because this place deserves a whole day, look no further than Kentwell Hall. The fascinating thing about Kentwell is that the Hall's inhabitants LIVE !! Once through the time tunnel there is NO escape back into the 21st Century, cameras,mobile phones, cars, coaches are just not recognised and you soon find yourself slipping into Tudor speech- it's a wonderful day out and I have never found ANYWHERE here or abroad to beat it."

"Visited on the Tudor day. And all I can say is it was amazing!!! You have to go to experience it."

"Each time I come here I get hit by the smells of the old world and my heart skips a beat."

"The best day of our holiday."

We also received this lovely email this morning:

"I have been visiting the summer Tudor re-enactments ...for the last six years...I visited this Saturday for the Pageant and had the most fantastic day yet. All the Tudors without exception were engaged, friendly and made the visitors feel involved and welcomed. The betrothal and Battle of Agincourt just made the day – the oohs and aahs of visitors around me was really noticeable. There was so much more going on all around the manor and everyone was very involved. A definite 10 out of 10 – please pass on my congratulations and thanks to all those whose huge efforts made for a very memorable experience!"

Passing secret messages

We've had a few thousand school children through our gate so far. See a review of their visit by a local school.

As well as taking part in various Tudor activities children got involved with the religious complications of the day. The children were used to convey secret messages about the Manor (and to learn how messages were written in code and hidden in barrels) to enable secret meetings of Protestants. Whilst others worked with the local Priest to report suspicious happenings.

Anglian Business Green 100

All images and text © Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk CO10 9BA