A party for my Lord’s worthy villeins (usually known as the Living Stones red-shirted volunteers).
Nothing daunts the famished villagers of Iffley. Plunging back to the year of Agincourt, 1415, was an adventure into the unknowable and unexpected, but twenty-two Living Stones volunteers and their friends and relations braved the summons issued by My Lord and Lady Donnington to attend their Banquet in celebration of St Crispian’s day.
The Boar’s Head, cooked and decorated by my Lord’s Steward, Penny Terry.
Ever resourceful, our guests arrived bearing tithes of soup, hummus, bones and beans, tasty pies of eggs and apples and pigs in blankets. As the Boars Head processed around the Hall they swigged their mead, joked with the master carver of the soon-to-be auctioned Lion, and relaxed to the sound of the crumhorn, cortol, bladder pipe and drum. The five thousand (actually sixty) feasted, and hardly a crumb was left. No rude rushing was allowed, everyone remembered to stand in the presence of my Lord Donnington, and I don’t think anyone was caught leaning on the table, picking their teeth or wiping their mouth with the tablecloth. They sang, they danced and they cheered my Lord, his Steward, the band, the stone carver, the Lion and each other.
Penny Terry is the leader of Ghaetta, a merry and very professional band of mediaeval minstrels. The musicians told us about their instruments, and they played almost non-stop throughout the evening.
As the guests left they said, ‘What a wonderful evening it was! The hall looked beautiful, the musicians were superb. Everything was perfect’. A mere 150 years later, a certain Bard noticed that such occasions tended to be remembered ‘with advantages’ (remember the line? Henry V Act 4 scene 3, line 50), but they, like WS, were right. One guest even said that the presentations were fascinating. Well, he was stony sober, having far to go through the night after saying farewell to his distinctly lively Lion.
Royse’s almost-tame Iffley Lion has settled into his new home.
Living Stones! We are braced for feats to come! We have courage and goodwill. We will welcome pilgrims to St Mary’s on high days, holidays and every single Saturday and Sunday from Easter to September 2018 and in the years to come. Artists, stone carvers, school children and an anchoress will be ‘IN’ to help us.