The day the Civil War returned to Lichfield (sort of!)

Another one of our first-time contributors, Sam Ackroyd, went along to the weekend’s historical events in Lichfield…

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The Civil War re-enactment in Lichfield. Pic: Sam Ackroyd

On Saturday, Lichfield’s marketplace played host to the Sealed Knot society and some Civil-war era soldiers.  Now, I was lead to believe that there was going to be a re-enactment of sorts going on, but in typical Lichfield organisational style this didn’t come to pass!

The soldiers came out and had a march to the Cathedral and back, went to the pub for a couple of hours then had another march.  It turns out that I consequently missed the main demonstration – that was the day after where they were in the now empty marketplace giving demonstrations of their skills, weaponry and general drilling (marching, not DIY that is!).

It was quite evocative though seeing them march with their huge pikes towering above them and massive St. Georges’ flags.  They also had a cute and very photogenic little drummer girl, who was more than happy to pose for photographs.

A drummer girl in traditional costume. Pic: Sam Ackroyd

A drummer girl in traditional costume. Pic: Sam Ackroyd

However, what we did see was quite impressive, the shouting, civil war era songs that they sang, and the ‘soldiers’ were very friendly.  They showed me, the members of the Facebook ‘Lichfield Photography Crew’ who I was with, and anyone who asked their reproduction weapons.

They were also on a recruitment drive, we were asked a couple of times if we wanted to take the ‘King’s Shilling’, i.e. join their society.  Sounds fun, but sadly I don’t have the time to give them, but it their enthusiasm was almost infectious and they obviously enjoyed their civil-war era alter egos.

There was some fascinating stuff in there – apparently the saying ‘flash in the pan’ comes from the old muskets they used – the guns were fired using gunpowder in the barrel and the lead shot, which was ignited by some powder in a ‘pan’ which the smouldering piece of rope would be brought crashing down into when the trigger was pulled.  If the powder in this pan ignited but didn’t actually fire the gun, it was called a ‘flash in the pan’, and a saying was born!

We were also shown one soldier’s home made sword, which was fashioned from a not quite period Mitsubishi Shogun suspension part! Looked authentic, although not sharp (would probably fall foul of anti-knife crime laws maybe?)

However, the aforementioned poor organisation did put a shadow over this.  No traffic was stopped in the market area of the city, so whilst the company was mustering for it’s march a line of decidedly 21st century people carriers and cars formed trying to find a way through the ranks of 17th century soldiers.

Also, I’m not sure if this added to the atmosphere or was a bit annoying but one of the market traders was shouting at the top of his voice trying to sell punnets of strawberries for a pound, which did get a bit wearing after the umpteenth repeat!

There was a few unintentional moments of mirth too – the 21st century encroaching a bit on the scene, for example the soldier in period kit smoking a cigarette whilst chatting on his mobile phone, and another sending a text with one hand and his other on the hilt of his sword!

Overall is was a good experience, the Sealed Knot men (and women, also in costume) showed their obvious enthusiasm for what they did and told anyone nearby about their weapons, clothing and history (as well as some attempted recruitment!).  I hope they come back again – and this time they close the road for a few minutes to let the men and women march without risk of being run over.

And hopefully if it happens next year I’ll make sure I turn up on the right day.

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1 Comment

  1. Sammy J

    4th March, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Great first post – welcome to the gang. I look forward to reading more!

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