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Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Sealed Knot

It's with a certain amount of pride that I note today that 2000 and eight is the 40th Anniversary of the Sealed Knot, a historical re-enactment society named after a secret society of the 17th Century, whose aim was to restore the monarchy after the English Civil War of 1645 and the beheading of King Charles the 1st.

The Society today, has upward of 5000 active fighting members, and the reason my ears pricked up this morning, is because pretty much every member is going to the massive re-enactment of the Battle of Naseby, in the county of Northamptonshire near Oxford, on the actual battle ground, and this brought back memories, as Naseby was one of the first battles I fought after joining the Sealed Knot

"Every man thinks meanly of himself
f for not having been a soldier...." so said Dr Johnson,

and so it was, that in 1981, this deep-seated quirk in men..combined with my love of history, curiosity in time-travel, and beer, I discovered the society and found there were legal ways, that one could have a massive punch up, dressed in historical clothing.

I was twenty six at the time. The regiments of the society still exist in the areas they were originally in the 17th cent, so in Oxford, being the Royalist Capital of England, I was inducted into the Kings' Lifeguard as a Pikesman, and became the proud owner of a full costume ( which you made yourself from material from the quartermaster stores ) an 18ft Ash Pike Staff (which was hell to put on the car roof rack), baldricks, helmets and a whole range of weapons and 17th Century style
accouterments. (which I still have, but can no longer fit into.)

(Sir Dayvd, at half his present age. )

You had a battle dress and also a costume for going out in the evening.

One thing you soon learn about the Sealed Knot is that all aspects of life back then are covered in great seriousness and fine when I went to my first battle At Cropredy and we went to the first of many many ancient taverns over the years... . ( all battles are on original sites as much as possible and number a dozen major musters a year )... , It literally was like going back in Time , and can only be comparable to being on a film set where everyone is playing a part....and the whole bar , even for several hundred yards outside the tavern , was transformed into exactly how it was back then. Surreal was the understatement. (As you have noted a lot of our rural bars have little changed from that period anyway.)

The massive Fights were only sketchily , choreographed, and were again as real as you could get without being actually killed. Cannon, Musket , Cavalry, explosions in the ground and Pike Pushes to protect the Standard..... I could go on, but I could really sum it up in that eventually I had to call it a day after a few years..., because I couldn't get insurance....and was forever injured with cracked ribs and covered in bad bruises.

So tonight I will seek out my old Pewter tankard, and fill it full of Old Hooky Ale, and raise the mug to the oak beamed ceilings of a pub, and give a big hearty cheer to all those in the Sealed Knot, who still learn the lessons for today from the people of the past....and maybe I'll show a few folk my scars.

Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire


  1. Cannon, Musket , Cavalry, explosions in the ground and Pike Pushes to protect the Standard.....

    Damn, that sounds like fun.
    My re-enacting goes back to only the late 18th Century in the pioneer Indiana Territory. Musket, Throwing Ax, and Knife (no pike staffs).

    There are always lessons for us to learn. Enjoy.

    Sir Bowie

  2. Seal the Deal...Tie the Knot...Beer, Fighting and Fun! I couldn't touch that with an 18 foot pole! Push on my Warrior Knights!

  3. The cannon were the most interesting things... at the beginning of the battle, the gunners would have a pile of wadding and paper bundles they would stuff down the bore and fire in conjuntion with ground explosives( FX for the crowds ) that were triggered when the cannon went off. These were marked on the ground and it was a wise man to steer a little clear of the marks.

    Then when these ran out, and if the field had been mown beforehand, they'd stuff huge amounts of hay down the shute and this was blasted at us... but worse if the battlefield was green grass had been just cleared of Cows ( you can see where i'm going with this ) the gunners would load up with as many cow pats and as much bull shit as they could. You haven't lived unless you have done the Braveheart Charge down a hill and had a dozen cannon fire new Dung at you...


    Sir Dayvd