The Minstrels' Court will be taking place once again at St John's Church, Chester on Saturday 16th June 2012, from 10.30am-5pm.
This is a recreation of the annual gathering of musicians and other performers to obtain their licence in remembrance of the occasion when the minstrels saved Earl Ranulf of Chester who was besieged at Rhuddlan Castle. Word was sent to Chester for more soldiers, but it being the time of the midsummer fair, there were none sober to be found and so instead the musicians were rounded up and sent off to help the Earl. As they approached Rhuddlan, they made such a noise that the Welsh feared a great army and fled. In gratitude Earl Ranulf granted his protection, to be renewed each midsummer, and issued each a licence to perform without fear of arrest. The Minstrels' Court took place annually from 1204 to 1756, it was revived in 2008 and has taken place each year since, growing a little each time.
It takes place in its original and authentic location of the church of St John the Baptist, Chester, which is packed full of history (it's the oldest church in Cheshire) and has wonderful acoustics for the day of music. The church is just outside the city walls, next to the Roman amphitheatre.
This year's programme includes performances of medieval music from a wide range of groups, living history, renaissance dance workshops, storytelling, mummer's plays, family crafts, a display of medieval archaeological finds. It's all free admission during the day.
Performers include; Richard York, the Time Bandits, Trouvere, Halfe Pannikin, Pilgrims and Posies, de Mowbray's Musicke and Blast From The Past.
There are also lots of musicians joining us from across the UK. A procession of minstrels leaves the church at 1pm to wander through the city and return at 1.30pm to obtain their licence in a recreation of the original ceremony.
So, if you're interested in early music, this will be a great event to come along to. And if you are a musician and join the procession, you'll get your licence too!
Making it, listening to it, words, music sheets, making instruments
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