St George’s day in England is 23rd April, this being a Tuesday in 2013 many areas will have marked the day on the weekend closest to the date. Morley, a town near Leeds, took this option. Morley falls within the boundaries of Leeds City Council but is a town in its own right, receiving its Charter in 1886.
I decided to attend this year, I am not Morley resident, as the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote, a part of the Sealed Knot English Civil War re-enactment society. I decided earlier this year that I required a new hobby and around the time I decided this I saw a tweet from someone I followed regarding this regiment. I contacted him for more info, looked at the website and decided it looked worth a try. Before joining though I wanted to see them in action.
So, this was the first chance I had, and as I live in Leeds it was local (I live in a village that falls inside Leeds City Council… not actually in Leeds). I’ve been over to Morley a few times for events, such as Wicket Fest at Morley Cricket Club in 2011 and 2012.
The afternoon’s proceedings started at Morley Town Hall with a parade that marched through the town centre and up to Morley Rugby Club, next to the Cricket Club. Afterwards there were a number of stalls, rides and demonstrations spread between the Rugby Club and the Cricket Club.
The parade started with the arrival of St George (sorry I didn’t get the name of the person portraying St George). St George was accompanied by representatives of a number of historical re-enactment groups.
The Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote. My first glimpse of the group I had particularly come to see.
I must admit to an amount of excitement seeing them approach. Not through involvement, I haven’t joined yet, but from the thought that I intend to join. I may be marching among them next time I witness them on parade.
They paraded past St George to take a place in the main parade. I wasn’t certain but I suspected the standard bearer, the Ensign, was the person I had discussed potentially joining the group with. I’ve seen him in person on three occasions at the Judge Dredd fan pre-release in August 2012 and at Thought Bubble comic convention in October 2011 and November 2012.
There was a brief moment for speeches and the day was blessed.
At this point I’ll mention that while I was born in England and am technically English I actually have little or no feeling of English identity. I consider myself British. So St George holds as much value to me as St Andrew, St David or St Patrick. That is to say, not a great deal. So this part of the parade was lost on me. Yes, it can make it awkward knowing which Rugby team to cheer for (by default it is England by the way or Ireland).
The parade proper then started, with my vantage point directly behind St George I didn’t get a very good view of the start.
A reasonable view of the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote giving salute to the representatives of the local Councils and the Crown.
Some less than local guests followed.
There were not so many representatives from the other side.
This is the 501st, a Star Wars uniform group, or a small portion there of. They appear up and down the country at a large number of events.
At the Rugby ground there were, as I said above, quite a number of stalls, rides and exhibitions. I was there for the Living History so that was what I focused on.
There was a display of hand to hand combat and jousting, sadly though I took many pictures none were of sufficient quality to reproduce here. If you want to know more about jousting you can read my article about the Easter Joust that took place earlier this month at the Royal Armouries.
I watched part of a falconry display while waiting for the Earl of Manchester’s to make their appearance in the display arena. I’ve seen many falconry displays but I don’t think I have ever seen a vulture among the birds.
Sadly my camera’s battery died at this point. So when I went back to the arena to see the display by the Earl of Manchester’s I was unable to capture it. Had I known I’d fail to get good pictures of the Melee and Joust I would have still had power left – them’s the breaks.
We were treated to displays of musketry, pikemanship and drumming. We also saw all three acting at once as they would in a battle to receive a cavalry charge.
The Musketeers managed to get off two shots within half a minute in a timed trial, counting from one volley to the next so in total a double volley would take just under a minute to perform. The skills of these Musketeers is likely equal to those of the period. These guns very much altered the field of battle. It took years to train a Longbowman but a weekend could train a Musketeer. As with their famous fictional French counterparts the Musketeer was usually also armed with a sword for close quarters.
The Pikemen displayed several stances for using their weapons. There would usually be between 150 and 200 men in each block of Pikemen and the combat between such blocks was more a matter of scrummage than trading blows. Though the steel tip would deal a wicked wound if it struck home. The real strength of the pike was in repelling horse.
The drums were used to convey orders, the drummers were usually educated men with good reputations. They would be relied upon to run messages as well as play the drum. In fact some ;likely performed scouting and reconnoitering and would report back with notes they had taken.
I currently have no idea what role I want to perform in the regiment, potentially I will get a chance to try out the various roles, though only fully trained musketeers get working firearms.
I also had a conversation or two with several members of the Regiment. All of this has only made me want to join up all the more. I am not certain when my first event as a member will be but I will let you know how that goes.
You can follow the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote on twitter.