Partying like it's 1599 at St Albans medieval festival

PUBLISHED: 18:30 01 October 2019

Longbow expert Pip Bickerstaffe at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan Todd

Longbow expert Pip Bickerstaffe at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan Todd

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Knights in shining armour celebrated days of old at a three-day medieval festival in St Albans.

Dr Jill Singer talks about Anglo-Saxon St Albans at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church. Picture: Evan ToddDr Jill Singer talks about Anglo-Saxon St Albans at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church. Picture: Evan Todd

The Medieval Daze Festival took place over three days in St Michael's Church and Kingsbury Barn - with medieval music, food, storytelling and martial arts.

The festival programme also included Harry Christophers from choir The Sixteen, which has performed at St Albans Cathedral, who was interviewed by BBC presenter Sarah Mohr-Pietsch at the church.

A knight at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan ToddA knight at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan Todd

St Michael's resident Jill Singer, a doctor in Anglo Saxon, gave a talk explaining that there was more light and better food in the alleged 'dark ages' than is usually supposed. She put forward the idea that the arrival of the Saxons was not so much violent and invasive, but more like modern immigration - bringing skills, sharing ideas and providing labour where the land needed it.

Maester Terry Brown demonstrated the English martial arts used by both men and women to protect themselves in a pre-police age, showing that a well-trained man with a pole was equal to a well-armoured knight on a horse.

Hannah McDowall remembers King Arthur at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan ToddHannah McDowall remembers King Arthur at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan Todd

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Medieval cookery expert Brigitte Webster explained how good medieval food could be, including slow-cooked meats and well-spiced sweetmeats, and Terry English, Britain's foremost armour-maker for films and television, told how he researches armour and makes sure it allows for freedom of movement.

The 'Sword in the Puddingstone' at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan ToddThe 'Sword in the Puddingstone' at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan Todd

The Herts Early English Dance Group taught medieval dance, and fantasy art expert Chris Achilleos demonstrated the long-lasting power of a well-drawn dragon.

Musicians Led Troubadour - more commonly known as Chuck and Angie Silverman - also played dulcimer and recorder with their backing band the Broadswords.

Dressing a knight at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan ToddDressing a knight at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan Todd

Sue Macmillan and Hannah McDowall performed stories from the age of King Arthur and Merlin, including the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Festival producer Evan Todd said: "All was evoked brilliantly in the mind's eye merely through gesture and tone.

Brigitte Webster talks about medieval cooking at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan ToddBrigitte Webster talks about medieval cooking at the Medieval Daze festival at St Michael's Church, St Albans. Picture: Evan Todd

"These are the tales that Britain still tells, and it was a beguiling evening, reconnecting us with the storytelling skills that lasted 30,000 years before the coming of moving images on a screen.

"It was a remarkable performance."

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