An event which concludes with the triumphant crowning of Henry Tudor is always going to receive a favourable review from the Henry Tudor Society but post-Bosworth dramatics aside, Raglan Castle’s Tudor Weekend was a great success. With a plethora of stalls set up under the domineering Great Tower of Gwent and a wide range of entertainment in the shadows of the spectacular Gatehouse, it can be confidently asserted that this is an event that is going to grow in the coming years. It is estimated over 2000 people entered the castle over the weekend, a staggering number keen to partake in the Tudor-themed revelries.
The undoubted star of the attraction, as is often the case at these wonderful events, was the re-enactors and their assorted collection of gleaming armour, medieval furniture and barbaric weapons. The Armourial Knights set up camp on the edge of the castle’s former moat, effectively creating a small encampment slightly isolated from the remainder of the modern stalls. Stepping into the heart of the camp left one with a dramatic sense of being transported back in time as you wandered through the medieval surroundings. The experienced and extraordinary Beaufort Companye were also in attendance, replete in shining armour as they participated in the guise of the Bosworth armies of Henry Tudor, Richard III and the Stanleys. The attention to detail of both re-enactment groups is astounding and pictures barely do the members any justice. A mock execution was also held in the Pitched Stone Court, part-theatre and part-talk on the tribulations of Mary, Queen of Scots, infamously executed in the 1580’s.
The battle re-enactment at the end of each day was fascinating to watch in the picturesque setting of the half-ruined Fountain Court, a part of the great castle that young Henry Tudor would have intimately known during his childhood years in Raglan. There was certainly something fitting about seeing Tudor’s greatest moment relived in a castle he lived in from the age of four to fourteen. The Tudor Trail competition proved popular with children and adults alike, the objective to explore the castle grounds and locate factsheets on various Tudor personalities such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. It was an ideal and fun way to discover the castle whilst learning about the Tudor Dynasty. Local re-enactor Minstrel Tom also proved popular with the crowds in his Henry VIII costume. The resemblance was remarkable!
Historical novelist Judith Arnopp was also present, with her various novels such as Intractable Heart and the Winchester Goose proving a popular draw and garnering much attention from the history-loving public. Local historian Emma Knight was also in attendance and gave a talk on Anne Boleyn in the appropriate setting of the contemporary ruins of the Great Hall. Although I didn’t personally hear Emma’s talk having spoken to her at length I’m sure it was an intriguing and insightful discussion on the doomed second wife of Henry VIII.
Finally, what event is complete without refreshments! The weekend was well-watered by the incredible Stagger Inn, a medieval pub set up to provide the crowd with those staples of Tudor diet – mead and ale! The set up was interesting, with a Lancastrian bar and a Yorkist bar, decorated in the relevant red and white roses of each side. I personally enjoyed both the Christmas Mead and the Tudor Tipple ale. A further nod must be giving in the direction of the Pig in a Bun stall and their sumptuous Hog Roasts and especially to the Welsh Cake stall; what visit to Wales is complete without a freshly baked Welsh Cake!
Raglan Castle and all involved need to be suitably proud of the weekend. It was quite simply, a great way to spend a wonderful weekend. Roll on next year!