Jousting at Warwick Castle – Sept 2012

As per my re-start post I am going to be re-blogging some of my posts from a site that unfortunately no longer exists in an effort to get working on my blog again.

As with other posts of old blogs the photos are as taken with the exception of some cropping.

On 2nd September the family and I went to Warwick Castle with a couple of friends. Last year we went to the jousting and today was the last day – since we enjoyed it so much last year we thought we’d go again. The castle sits on a bend of the River Avon and was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and was used as a fortification until the early 17th century when Sir Fulke Greville converted it to a country house.

From 1088 the castle was traditionally a symbol of power for the Earl of Warwick and was taken by Henry of Anjou (later Henry II) in 1153. It has been used to hold many prisoners most notably perhaps Edward IV whilst in the ownership of Richard Neville – also known as “Warwick the Kingmaker”. The castle was also the centre of a siege during the English Civil War whilst controlled by the parliamentarians – the castle withstood the siege and was used to hold prisoners from the war after this. The castle was purchased by the Tussauds Group in 1978 which is now part of Merlin Entertainments. And so endeth the history – now onto to bashing people over the head and such stuff.

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First we went to grab a seat on the hill for the lunchtime joust. While waiting we saw one of the birds of prey resisting any attempt to display him where he was wanted – more on these later. There was one rather odd moment when this Bald Eagle (still young so hasn’t yet got the well known feather colours) was flying with a flock of blackbirds – looked a little out of place but no picture unfortunately. Next to the jousting ground was the trebuchet – more on this later.

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Here is the jousting ground – not quite in the same place as last year. Last year it was pretty much on the river bank but this set a little further back – not quite so easy for more people to see but still possible to get a decent view from the bank leading up to the castle.

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All around Warwick Castle – even when the jousting is not on – are people in costume taking on various characters that they never leave whilst working. This can be very entertaining, particularly for the youngsters.

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The arrival of the jousting contestants. Joust is perhaps a little too specific. It’s basically people showing off what they can do with a lance or spear on horseback and then they get their swords out – not that I’m complaining as it was good fun.

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The English knight – up against (to start off with) Greece, Spain, and Italian knights.

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And then the arrival of the nasty French knight – boooo! (such were the times, I think they had several shields available to suit the crowd nationality split).

And then the joust began.

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After the first joust they had to try to pierce a pig skin full of something flammable – they did say what but I can’t remember – with a lighted spear.

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Then another joust.

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Then trying to collect flaming rings with their lances.

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Then another joust.

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Followed by some hand to hand combat.

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Which the English knight won – an made him the winner over all. Huzzah!

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The jousting over we then went for a look round some of the state rooms.

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With a big mirror in one of the halls which my little poser at the front quite liked.

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Then back outside for a demonstration by the Warwick Warriors.

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They started off with a mock battle.

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And once that was done it became a talk about what fighting in medieval times was really like – putting down the myths perpetuated by Hollywood…

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Which they likened to essentially being Morris Dancing with swords.

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They were very entertaining, whilst also demonstrating the effectiveness of the weapons – this one being a slice through wood of thickness to give the same strength of bone.

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Then demonstrating what effect a knobbler mace would have on a brain…

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…substituting a brain with a white cabbage which has then same density as a human brain they have been reliably informed. A very ‘scientific’ demonstration – not done just because it was a lot of fun, not at all.

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Alright, maybe just a bit.

There then came an argument as to the best battlefield weapon which was between the great sword and the pole axe. Arguments went along the lines of ‘with the great sword you can do …’ up against ‘It’s a biiiig axe!’

So the two in support of the great sword had a duel to decide who would go up against the pole axe in another ‘scientific experiment’.

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Then the winner went up against the pole axe.

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The pole axe won.

Then to the lawns outside the castle walls for a bird of prey display.

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First up was this guy, a fine example of an American Bald Eagle.

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This was my only decent in flight shot of any of the birds – others were over-exposed, out of focus or missing bits of bird – you’ll see an example of this shortly.

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But I did get one decent shot of the Bald Eagle coming in to the glove as well.

The next bird was another bald eagle but was spooked very easily and so decided he didn’t want to play and disappeared for a while. This was the same bird I saw when we were going for the jousting earlier. So the next bird we saw properly was an owl – sorry, can’t remember the species.

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Finally came a White Tailed Scottish Sea Eagle – the biggest bird of the day and the UK’s largest native bird of prey.

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This one I would have been proud of even with the wing tip missing – but a chap that was stood up at the front in front of several people that were already sat down spoiled the shot as I pressed the shutter release just as I panned past his head – gutted!

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Then off for a walk around the gardens where we found fountains…

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…and peacocks.

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Including one hiding in the flower beds behind a shrubbery.

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Peek-a-boo! And no Knights who say Ni in sight thank goodness.

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Then a quick look at the birds of prey mews – there were a couple of birds there that were not taking part in the displays. This was an Egyptian Vulture – different colours to the one we saw in Berlin at the zoo.

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The White Tailed Sea Eagle sunning himself.

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This one of the Bald Eagle was taken into the sun with forced flash to bring out the detail otherwise hidden in the shade.

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The Sea Eagle again in profile – nothing done to fade out the background, taken looking into a darker background. The shadows have been darkened but otherwise no editing.

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Then we watched a sword in the stone act with these three people drawn out from the crowd. To two adults didn’t manage it but the kid did – the faces of the two actors when it turned out the kid’s name was Arthur was great.

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The final thing we saw was the firing of the trebuchet – led by the Warwick Warriors.

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The arm is lowered ready for loading.

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Once the arm was locked in place the ropes were released again using the wheels as seen here – going the other way was how the arm was lowered in the first place. And then…

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FIRE!

Then it was time for home.

I hope that you have enjoyed this photographic record of our day – Warwick Castle is an excellent day out and I would highly recommend it to anyone – and remember that if you are an English Heritage member you can get 2 for 1 entry for members as it is an associated site.

As always any comments welcome – I’d love to know what people think and what others that have been to Warwick Castle think as well.

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