Where to start? UK Reenactment

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SirUlf
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Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby SirUlf » Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:31 pm

I've recently got interested in doing medieval reenactment, probably War of the Roses-era as it seems to be quite popular. I'm 39 years old, been moderately interested in medieval history for a long time, more a generalist than a specialist. Figured I really need to start doing something I'm interested in, so thought this might combine quite a few of my interests. Been reading up on various websites, including this one, but just want to know about a few things.

I live in the UK, so I've been trying to find groups and armour makers here but it seems the groups don't respond to emails and the armour's cheaper from Eastern Europe. I found quite a good selection of armour at Bestarmour.com, so I'm thinking of maybe something from them. What I'd like to know is (apart from why can't these people reply to an email) is if it's terribly important that the pieces "fit" together. I've sort of hobbled together a list of what I think "looks nice", but no idea if it's completely unfeasible from a historical standpoint. Is there anyone who can help with that? For example, would a gorget be worn with a full chest plate?

Second, underneath a breastplate, is wearing a gambeson on its own sufficient, or is it best to wear an addition maille haubergon (I do apologise if I get these terms wrong, I'm still learning...) as well? Would one wear a long sleeve haubergon or a sleeveless one if arm armour is worn as well? Is there a benefit to wearing a coat of plates instead, and if so, again with maille or gambeson? And who in the UK makes good (value) maille and/or gambesons?

Finally, what else does one need? I imagine shoes, clothes, etc. And of course a sword.



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Tod » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:12 pm

Welcome. The best thing to do is to try and find a group near where you live, it'll help a bit although it isn't essential. I know some groups never reply to emails so its better to "advertise" on here. If you weant to do War of the Roses then one of the War of the Roses Federation groups would be the best, I belong to Oxfords and Marcher Freemen.
Regarding kit, all good groups should have a kit list. It is always best to start off with clothes before considering buying any armour or weapons. The quality of every thing varies hugely and if you can avoid buying any thing over the web unless you know the seller. I found that most off the peg clothing was pretty awful and junked what I bought after few months, but if you are testing the water that might be the best way to go you can always sell it when you go for bespoke kit. I always use Jackie Phillips at Cloak'd and Dagger'd. The clothing she makes fits and is right for the period. I sell boots and leatherwork including shoes my web sites are at the bottom of the posting. Once you have clothing (soft kit) then you can decide what to buy next. Armour has to fit together, the Indian made stuff is pretty poor and its always best to try before you buy, some of it is so thin its dangerous. Some times second hand stuff comes up and its worth watching the buy and sell section on here. If you go for bespoke armour visit one of the markets. Either the ILHF or TORM and trake some one with you who knows what they are looking at.
Maybe before you buy any thing you should think about what level you want to go for, by which I mean the type of event. If you only want to do late 15th century then go for that kit and there are plenty of events to attend. If you decide you want to go down the any medieval will do route then kit isn't so important and there are more events but being mixed up you won't be doing any thing accurate.
As I say you will be offered group help here, look at some of the old threads they will be helpful.



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Simon Atford » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:21 pm

Hi SirUlf :)

What part of the UK do you live?



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby SirUlf » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:43 pm

West Sussex. Near to both Raven Tor and the MSS. Spoke to the chaps from BPAS at Arundel Castle last weekend, they seemed a nice bunch.

And thank Tod. I'll look into the clothing part. Is it considered too "shallow" to just want to do the battle bits and not the "social side"...?



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Jenn » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:22 pm

Don't buy anything before you have spoken to the group you want to join - something that seems perfect to you now may be completely wrong - they may also have some stuff you can borrow for an event so you have a go before you invest a lot of money.
You need clothes, shoes, before you have any armour - but you will need gloves and a helmet at very least and almost certainly a jack
Some people only do the the fighting - but you get a more rounded experience if you do a bit of both
Can you sew? Do you know anyone who can if so you might want to consider making at least a shift/braies - buying Medieval Tailor by Sarah Thursfield is not wasted even if you not going to as you will know what to look for if you buy clothes.



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby guthrie » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:33 pm

SirUlf wrote: if it's terribly important that the pieces "fit" together. I've sort of hobbled together a list of what I think "looks nice", but no idea if it's completely unfeasible from a historical standpoint. Is there anyone who can help with that? For example, would a gorget be worn with a full chest plate?

Finally, what else does one need? I imagine shoes, clothes, etc. And of course a sword.

I'm not an armour geek, but know from other people that it really helps if your armour is made to fit together, both aesthetically and more importantly physically. Sure, you can mix and match styles, but at the end of the day if they don't fit together physically and aren't made to measure for you personally things get a lot harder, what with metal on metal, you finding that you can't move in the right way at the right time, etc.
Clothing wise, you need shoes, hat, braes, shirt, doublet and hose. Precisely what sort you need to speak to your new group about. You can make it all yourself and save money, or find a helpful person who will help you make it, or get a tailor to make it which will cost you more.

Of course you need a sword and a pole arm - by the WotR pole arms were the first line of offence, because they are better for battles, your sword being more a secondary weapon. Oh and get a scabbard for it, it helps keep it clean when transporting and is more authentic when wandering about with it on.

It depends what you mean by just doing the battle and not the social side. For instance yes the battles are fun, but it isn't fair on the organisers or the visitors if you hide in your tent the rest of the time. Which doesn't mean you have to spend all day talking to the public; your contribution, if you are a bit of an exhibitionist, can be putting on and taking off the armour, with someones help of course. Then there's often important behind the scenes stuff like cooking lunch that don't require you to speak to people.



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby SirUlf » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:45 pm

I can actually use a sewing machine (very post-modern man), unless it's a bit anachronistic... Might just buy the clothes in though, should I go down that route.

Trying to decide between War of the Roses-era or late Crusader (sort of Kingdom of Heaven-style) as when I think "knight" I still think more about the Crusader-style knight. As I understand it, that sort of knight wore a mail shirt under a hauberk. Would they have used early plate or coat of plates? Downside with Crusaders is that there seem to be less Crusader-events down here and more WOTR. I have some books coming at the library so will have a read over the weekend.

Here are the armour bits I was looking at. I've put them on Photobucket rather than hotlink as I'm not sure on the policy here. The copyright remains with the original owner.

Image

Not sure about the visor on the barbute, read somewhere it might not be accurate...

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Again, this is just playing around, nothing for certain. I was just thinking about something rather simple but functional and not too cumbersome (for a suit of armour weighing a third of my body weight...).



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:57 pm

The helmet doesn't look right.
Unless you plan on sitting in harness all day, which is, from experience unpleasent, you will need to have ordinary clothes (for the period) to wear.
And if you are planning to dress in really, really, shiney harness and play at being a Knight , then your soft kit should be really, really, good. I mean bespoke, top quality wools/linen, brocades, gowns, jewelry.
I fecking hate it when Paddy McGinty the peasent goes into his tent and comes out looking like Mr Ben does King Arthur so I do.


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Dave B » Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:04 pm

A couple of brief thoughts.

1. You need to go to some events and do some training before you will really be able to work out whats going to work for you. Join a group, buy shoes, hose, shirt, doublet and hat, go to some events and help out and do some training, and it will all fall into place. I'd second 'Cloak and daggered' for clothes as Jackie carries a fair bit off the peg, knows what she is talking about and isn't expensive, although of course there are plenty of other good people - I'll declare an interest, Jackie is an old freind.

2. The place to develop your weapons and armour ideas is at a big reenactment market. there are two at the end of the season, but there is also a big market for medieval stuff at Tewkesbury. I'd definitely try to be there if you can possibly find a group to guest with, It's not the best medieval event in some ways but it is one of the biggest in terms of groups and traders.

3. If you are undecided between crusaders and late medieval, then you should know that there are more late medieval events to go to in this country. If crusaders floats your boat then do it, but if you are undecided then you'll probably find WOTR easier to get into.

4. Don't worry about only wanting to do the battle thing, thats how lots of people start, most of them then find something else they want to do in between. Main thing is to get involved.

5. If you want to get going this season buy a reasonanbly priced pair of shoes now, as they are the one thing that will be difficult to make or buy off the peg if you suddenly get the chance to be at an event at very little notice. People will tend to have other stuff to lend out generally, but not shoes (or if they do they will be unpleasant!)


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby SirUlf » Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:12 pm

Thanks all, definitely food for thought...

When it comes to fancy clothes, I was thinking more of a sort of mercenary type rather than a landed knight, giving a bit more leeway perhaps in interpretation. Just more my personality than trying to be posh. ;)



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Simon Fryer » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:19 am

The BPAS would be very welcoming for WOTR era, I know a few of them personally and they seem a great bunch, I can point someone from them in your direction if you want to get in contact with them. Sometimes its hard to have an indepth convo at events, a chat over the phone or via email, would help to answer your questions about kit, as I know some have been doing it for 20 odd years or more.

Simon



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby gregory23b » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:07 pm

"I was thinking more of a sort of mercenary type"

Actually limits you, what kind of mercenary? foreign, rather than English, that leads to later WOTR period and more explanations than you will have time for.

Rather than think military, think civilian with the potential for war. That is more representative than mercenaries or exotics and was the basic way armies were raised, from the general male populace. Your kit is dependent on your wealth and status, they are not necessarily the same thing. So you could have a wealthy landowning peasant who is well kitted out - assuming he sticks to the law, or a less wealthy one who has less. A big issue in WOTR dressing up is a misunderstanding of wealth and status, basically put if you were worth lots of money in land then you were expected to have more kit, and less for lower value. On top of that is your social status, for example knights had an expectation due to their social rank, they can easily be poorer than a well heeled peasant landowner.

Don't buy a thing until you meet groups that suit you, be aware that each group has its own idea of what is 'authentic' or not. FWIW aim high and you will get the pick of events.

That barbute is dodgy, ie made up, not to mention that barbutes are mostly continental, there are plenty of French, Flemish, German, Italian and of course English head coverings to choose from.

It all comes down to the cash, if you want to look good then it will cost you, a decent sallet is going to cost you around 200 quid (min), by decent I mean well made and of the correct style and shape.

To make your spend more efficient - start with the clothing first, most important. Good shoes and well made and fitted clothes should last you years and be a saving in the long run.

Then go for simple harness that you can add to: sallet (must), possibly a breastplate, or brigandine, or jack.
Sidearm - falchion, main weapon - bow, or pole arm.


Go to Kelmarsh to get a feel of the range of quality available and the higher end. You might even see another period which grabs you.


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Fox » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:09 pm

gregory23b wrote:Rather than think military, think civilian with the potential for war.

I grieve for the want of Like button.



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Adam R » Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:46 pm

Fox wrote:
gregory23b wrote:Rather than think military, think civilian with the potential for war.

I grieve for the want of Like button.


x2

There is a world of re-enactment, some is very bash and beer oriented, some very authento-pedantic with a wealth of in between. All are great if that's what your into. Find a group you like - fit in with their way of doing stuff. If you want it to be right, then read. Lots. Get a grip on the period you are portraying. Probably best not to just listen to other re-enactors and assume they are right though. Most pre-conceptions of most periods are wrong. Mostly. :)

Have a great time though!! :D


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Darkmere » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:42 pm

I wouldn't write off english armorers due to price. They might be a bit more expensive but you would be getting top quilty armour and everything should fit properly due to being measured up. I've learnt this after one or two overseas buy's. If you can get to Tewksbury go and talk with the Armorers there. There are more but Ive linked the three Id highly recommend below and think they will all be there. Another +1 for Jackie also!!!

Ash : http://www.facebook.com/ArmourServices?ref=ts
Matthew Bailey : http://mattblackarmour.co.uk/index.html
Mark Vickers : http://www.stgeorgearmouryshop.co.uk/901.html

Theres some more armorers in this thread

http://livinghistory.co.uk/forums/viewt ... 21&t=26449


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Postby Edmund the Marshal » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:18 am

Hi and welcome, so many new people get sucked into buying armour first. Then they find is the wrong period or won't fit their new groups standards.
The MSS and War of the roses federation have very good kit and equipment guides. They also recommend the artisans to create it.
Cloaked and daggered
the padded armour company
Tod's stuff
Dressed to kill

Are a few more for you to check out, however find a group first as some have people within their organisations who make starter kit for newbies.



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Adam R » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:49 am

... and as boring as this may sound, where you have a budget to work to, buy fewer pieces of quality rather than be tempted by greater coverage of good. And kit is often made or broken by the bits and bobs (a good doublet and hose, belts, scabbards etc) than by the armour you wear for a while...


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Nigel » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:55 am

Come to this late been mega busy

so far the focus has been on wotr which does domiante the medieval scene

BUT there is a pretty lively early medieval scene too

An alliance (some would call in unholy :D ) of groups come together to recreate prety good early medieval bashes the highloght so far was the siege of kennilworth last year apaprently to be repeated in 2013 BUT we are having a siege at Dover this year

The advantages its cheaper its differant

The disadvantages its smaller

If you really want to see pop up to Kelmarsh next month a bit of a haul I know BUT you can do a comapre and contrast on the day

Nige

Oh and what Jenn says DONT BUY ANYTHING FROM ANYBODY UNTIL YOU ARE IN A GROUO AND KNOW WHAT THEY REQUIRE


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby SirUlf » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:57 pm

Again, thanks to all who have taken the time to respond to this. I do really appreciate it. Still trying to decide on era, but like people say here, need to find a group first. Going to pop along to another medieval event the week after next at Arundel Castle and have a word with Raven Tor. But Nigel, I will check out Conquest as a definite possibility. Kelmarsh might be a bit too far though...

Basically, I used to play baseball, which entailed standing around in the rain in some field, putting on a helmet and having a swing at things. So now looking at replacing it with something which entails standing around in the rain in some field, putting on a helmet and having a swing at things... :)



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby guthrie » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:14 pm

SirUlf wrote:Basically, I used to play baseball, which entailed standing around in the rain in some field, putting on a helmet and having a swing at things. So now looking at replacing it with something which entails standing around in the rain in some field, putting on a helmet and having a swing at things... :)

Ah, but the setting is often far better, there's often the chance of good food during or after, and lots of beer.




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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby gregory23b » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:26 pm

"Kelmarsh might be a bit too far though... "


Given the long term investment of time and cash, going to Kelmarsh would be time and money well spent - you will rarely get to see such a variety of groups of high quality with diverse eras in one place.


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:58 pm

Mind you, I'm going so don't get your hopes up too high.


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Nigel » Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:43 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Mind you, I'm going so don't get your hopes up too high.


thats it Iam not going :D


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:59 pm

Aye right, there goes the neighbourhood. Fecking bog trotters get everywhere.


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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby Byzer_Bob » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:21 am

Morning Sir Ulf

If you are still looking for a, relatively close to home, festival to attend, Herstmonceux could be the one. Usually good weather, many traders and a good selection of re-enactment groups. 25th to 27th August.



here is a link http://www.englandsmedievalfestival.com/



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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby ForTheMarshal » Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:17 pm

SirUlf wrote:Trying to decide between War of the Roses-era or late Crusader (sort of Kingdom of Heaven-style) as when I think "knight" I still think more about the Crusader-style knight.


* ears prick up

If you still have any interest in dabbling with the Crusades, please do drop me a PM.
We seem to be in the south quite a bit recently - just done a show at Dover, and will be in Detling (military odyssey) over the August bank holiday.


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PM me if you have any questions or want to join/work with us

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Re: Where to start? UK Reenactment

Postby SirUlf » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:29 am

Thanks ByzerBob, will be attending Herstmonceux with the family. Or, I might be there as an archer. :) I've been in close touch with Raven Tor and it looks like I'll be attending the next Arundel event as an archer. :D It'll be my first event on the "other side of the rope", so I'm really looking forward to it. Don't know the score with Herstmonceux but if Raven Tor are ok with it I'll try to be there too for a day if I can.

ForTheMarshall: Thanks to you too. At the moment I need to get the WOTR archery sorted, but at some point I'd like to start with Crusader-era reenactment as well. Maybe next year. :)




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