The first full Wars of the Roses medieval reenactments of 2015 started well, if slightly chilly for Buckinghams Retinue with two new sites for the group; Warkworth and Beeston. For St George's weekend we visited Beeston Castle and had an excellent turn out, along with Dragons Breath musicians and some of Griffin historic's children's entertainers. Beeston is an excellent site, with spectacular views over the surrounding landscape from the inner bailey, and a large grass area at the bottom providing a natural amphitheatre and areas for our shows. Given the Saint George brief for the event, we headlined with our Mumming shows about St George, with "meet" Saint George session to provide children and adults alike time for photographs with our George (and the Dragon). The mumming shows went well, with Mike Ball revelling in the role of St George, young Katie providing an excellent "stunt double" for Mike in the dragon fight scene, and the bearded David Helmsley providing a remarkable interpretation of Bold Hectors daughter. It was the first time that we have worked with Dragon Breath and it was a great experience, mixing their musical talent with our dance interpretations, though we do need to agree the number of in advance repeats next time.
May Bank holiday saw just a hardy few from Buckinghams Retinue join up with friends from across livery and Maintenance for a medieval living history re-enactment. Warkworth is another stunning site, and one of the few castle where we actually get to reenact inside castle rooms, which was welcome as the weather was particularly foul of the bank Holiday Sunday, to such an extent that we dropped some tents, and closed most of the others until around 2pm when the sun finally made an appearance. Many thanks to Kyle, Fran and especially Ellie for persisting with the cooking in the abysmal conditions on the first two days, it was the kind of weather where the and the fire tray was on the verge on being a pond, and the chicken was tuning into a soup dish. Monday however was a complete contrast with wonderful weather all day, large crowds and full programme of Drill Displays, Archery, Military displays and the Living history that Livery and Maintenance excels at.
Well an exhausting start to the new medieval re-enactment season for many of the Retinue, as we undertook filming for a TV show that is planned to air later this year. Paul with his work on a documentary about the early days of Morecambe & Wise, and Mark with Timewatch experience perhaps had some idea of what to expect, but the 4am alarm calls and long days of filming it was certainly different to the cameo roles we had had in Masterchef and Lord of the Fries for most of us. As is apparently the case with most TV work, there was a great degree of uncertainty about the exact requirements in advance, and it is a credit to the experience and professionalism of those involved that they were able to adapt to the evolving requirements and to deliver what was requested, and hopefully there will be a brilliant show at the end of this that we can all be proud of.
Five Buckinghams then headed over to Bosworth field to participate in the once in a life time re-enactment opportunity to provide a 21 gun salute for Richard III, former king of England as he is processed to his final resting place. Organised by our very own James Green, Gwynnifer (our cannon) formed one end of an impressive line of eight medieval guns that signalled a minutes silence in respect of Richard, before a rolling volley of 21 shots to mark respect. As crew to Gwynnifer, we had 70 seconds to reload between shots, a process that usually takes us 60 seconds, but we added to the drill slightly so ended up with about 5 seconds to spare on the actually event, only to find that the match had blown out on the previous shot and we had to scramble for a replacement to keep the line on track. But all was well Richard Iii is now safely ensconced in Leicester cathedral.
Next re-enactment event is medieval battle of Towton, and Kyle (ever a glutton for punishment) is walking to the battlefield from York, in full medieval kit as soldiers would have actually done at the time.
Members of Buckingham's Retinue will be making a number of appearances on TV in the next few weeks. First as part of the series "Flintoff:lord of the fries" Sky One Friday 13th March 2015 Freddie Fliintoff will visit the medieval re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth. His mobile chip van setup with our camp directly behind it, so expect to see footage of our camp and members in the background.
Next on Channel 4 evening of Sunday 22nd March, there will be a special programme "Richard III: The Return of the King" to mark the procession of Richard III to his final resting place in Leicester Cathedral. Members of the group will be involved in the commemoration ceremony that takes place at Bosworth as part of this event.
Finally we will be filming some of our medieval re-enactment in late March for a new TV programme that is still under wraps, but expected to be shown later in the year.