Arthur and Guinevere at Royal Armouries Leeds 11th April – my review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday at the Royal Armouries was the first show of the Easter season from Atkinson Action Horses. I’m a regular at Royal Armouries and you’ll be able to find several articles on this blog about my visits.

The the right is a picture I took looking up at the stairwell from outside. If you look close you will see it is lined with weapons. Quite impressive.

I popped in to the Museum first and caught Andy Deane doing a talk about the Battle of Flodden. It’s a bloody tale, as most battle stories are. and it went down well with the youngsters in the audience. It wasn’t till after listening to the whole tale I remembered I’d brought my camera.

I watched both shows today, 12:00 and 15:00. The first show I was accompanied by my son, Saul, and his fiance, Ellis. Saul had an appointment at 15:00 so he missed that show but Ellis and I went along anyway. Pictures in this article may be from either show, so that will explain any continuity errors that slip through. Some photos were taken by Kelly Fowler.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThree of the ground crew entered the tiltyard first  and stood by a large stone seemingly with a sword embedded in it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey were joined shortly by Charlie, who was narrating the shows, and Herbert the Shetland Pony. I was sat too near to get good pictures of Herbert, who reared up on his hind legs several times, he knew Charlie had a pouch of carrots…

The Prince of Camelot had died in battle and the King had died of a broken heart, leaving no natural heir. The sword within the stone had been there for many years and it was prophesied that whoever drew the sword from the stone would be the rightful King. So the Nobles of the land held a Tournament to see who was the strongest Knight and that Knight would have the right to draw the sword.

Sir Lancelot and Sir Arthur entered the arena both stood on two horses, this trick is known as Roman Riding and despite the name originated in Greece, the Romans brought the trick to Britain.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lancelot was portrayed by Ben and is on the brown horses, Charley and Chelsea. Arthur was portrayed by Lawrence on the piebald Cob Alfie and I think his partner was Aramis. Several members in the audience gasped in awe at this trick. I’ve seen Ben, and Mike, do it a few times and it is still one of the best tricks I’ve seen.

Mike QuintainThere followed a series of skills at arms including running at the quintain, a counter-weighted shield that aided training for the Joust. Here Mike, riding Dylan, gets a solid hit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Knights also loosed darts at a target on the ground. Then they jousted in an alder form than we usually see at the Armouries. No tilt between them and with the intent to unhorse the opponent. Zack landed a heavy hit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALancelot was unseated during the joust but undeterred he continued to fight on foot.

Arthur attempted to remove Lancelot from the fight but was pushed from his horse.

Arthur was unarmed and ran to the stone…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere he pulled…

and pulled…

and the sword moved.

Arthur had drawn the sword from the stone, Excalibur and was declared the King.

AlmonzorArthur was not only granted the Kingdom and the right to wield Excalibur he was also given Almonzor, the King of Horses as his mount.

Now he had command of the Knights of Camelot he could face the invading Saxons. But only if the Picts, a tribe far to the North of Camelot, would join him.

GuinevereThe Picts were ruled by the warrior Queen Guinevere. The Pict warrior women were skilled mounted archers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGuinevere, portrayed by Candice, showcased her balance on a pole held by Mike and Zack.

The horses wheeled around as Candice shifted her balance to perform several tricks.

Guinevere used her magic to summon Almonzor, the King of Horses, and learnt that King Arthur was coming. Her people had seen two groups of warriors approaching, who would arrive first, Arthur or the Saxons?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArthur and Lancelot arrived and Guinevere challenged Arthur.

By his control of Almonzor Arthur proved himself to the Picts to be their rightful King.

They would only follow him however after sharing in their riding skills it seemed.

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SaxonsThe Saxons were led by Morgana and her Knight, portrayed by Gill and Dan, who took the centre of the shield wall.

There was a great deal of fighting and to detail it all would lengthen this article greatly as there were skirmishes all over the field. The account below is greatly truncated.

J LawJ BenHaving charged several times. Arthur and Lancelot jumped their steeds over the Saxon shield wall before it broke.

Fight jThe fighting was fierce and at one point Arthur leapt from his horse to fell the Saxon Knight. Lawrence’s momentum took him past Dan who he knocked to the floor.FIGHT

Arthur then engaged the Saxon Knight on foot and the fighting raged around them.

Until at last the Britons won the day.

***

This is a new show and has a large cast. The storytelling by the stunt riders and ground crew was brilliant. Of course it is a live show so things don’t always happen at exactly the same time from the same angle but Charlie is a trick rider and stuntman himself and can ad-lib well and adapt to any alterations.

The pole balancing trick is new and the audience were asked to be silent and save applause to the end of the routine.

Always suitable for families with something in for all ages. The stunt riders and ground crew put a lot of work in. visit their website – Atkinson Action Horses – for more information about the team.

Herbert is five which is mature for a horse but still young, this was his first outing with the team. Safety for the horses is paramount and they clearly enjoy performing.

We went backstage, to the stable block, as is customary to see the cast and horses after the show.

Ellis asked Charlie if he’d pose with her cow, Gurder. Herbert got in on the act.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then Ricky was the victim, Kelly’s sons got in on this one.

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