Monday, 21 August 2017

Gwrych Medieval Fair, August 20th. 2017

(two posts in a week.... very unusual!)

We go to some interesting places in our lives as spinners, weavers and dyers:  Gwrych Castle is one such, and it's getting more interesting all the time.  The castle was built in the early 1800s in "mediaeval" style, but later fell into disuse.  In the 20th century it became increasingly derelict but in 1997 a Trust was formed to preserve the site and as much of the castle as possible.  Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust now has a 25-year lease on 5 acres of the site, and runs several public open days a year.
Their Medieval (no "a" for some reason) Fair is becoming an annual event - we were there last year, on the terrace with Val and Alan and the trusty camper van to which we tether our stand.  Unfortunately Val and Alan were away this year, so we apologised to the Trust and said we could attend only if we had somewhere to hammer in tent pegs to secure the gazebo.  They promised us a nice spot on the main field with the re-enactors.  However, following a freak gust of wind on the Saturday, several traders were forced to leave taking their twisted and wrecked tents with them -  leaving a prime pitch for us, right in the middle of the action next to the mead seller, with the best of the sunlight all day (until it rained, but that was much later).

Jenni and the display in the gazebo.

The "authentic" side of the field, demonstrating living in the early Middle Ages,  armour and clothing from the Wars of the Roses (and knightly children's games).

The other side of the field, with lots of interesting things to buy - and the most futuristic "gazebo" ever?

After seeing some very anachronistic stuff at the recent Conwy Tournament, I suggested that we might just demonstrate things more in keeping with the mediaeval period - one thing led to another, and here are Jenni and I all dressed up:
Photograph courtesy of Noël Carter.
Jenni has her beautiful (expensive?) top-whorl spindle, and I have my handmade clay-weight-on-a-stick.

We had a lot of compliments (Making an Effort is obviously a good thing) and several of the serious re-enactors came for lessons in drop spindling and braid weaving.
As always, there was lots of interest from members of the public. There was also, as there sometimes is, a fair bit of confusion between "spinning" and "weaving", which we were able to put right.  And some folk genuinely do not know that wool comes from a sheep and cotton is from a plant, and that they are not the same thing at all.  We like to think that we were able to explain the differences and send everyone on their way fully enlightened.
Betty joined us in the afternoon, but by this time I had forgotten about my camera - so no more photographs.  Not even of the genuine Viking cat - a grey and white Norwegian Forest Cat sitting in a harness, graciously making friends with all and sundry.  I want one.  But I would need a mortgage.
The weather was kind until the last hour, when it tipped down and everyone scurried to take down their dripping tents without shooting too much water into their luggage.  Jenni now has the job of drying our gazebo in her barn.  And I have discovered that a) it's easy to work in a long skirt if you hitch it up, and b) linen and ramie dry incredibly quickly.
Many thanks to Mark and Robin for inviting us, to our fellow participants for their interest and welcome, and of course to Jenni and Betty for their sterling work on our stand.

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