NEW MEMBER'S DIARY 2011-2012
First Feast: 7th January 2012
One of the things that so endeared me to Regia Anglorum was the Wychurst Longhall in Kent,
the idea of feasting on good traditional food with comrades around a hearth with stories being told
was almost irresistible. This is a four-year Regia tradition, held on a weekend in early January to
celebrate Twelfth Night.
I had intended to make all my own clothes, but many weeks of effort resulted in only one tunic, and
with Christmas out of the way, the need to get a move on with my other items became pressing.
I recruited the help of a useful relative, and in good time for the feast I had 2 tunics and a pair of
warm trousers. Authentic socks weren’t required, which was good, and Alan once again leant me
shoes, a belt and a very nice cloak.
I arrived in good time and once I’d staked a claim to a small corner of the nearby scout hall, inflated
an air bed and dumped two bags in a way which would hopefully deter anyone else from taking the
spot next to me, I started to say hi to people.
I collected a few things out of my bag and showed them to Alan, the first one was a knife. A knife
is useful in feasts, but I didn’t have an authentic one so rummaged through the drawer looking for a
suitable alternative. Before long I had found my grandfather’s old knife — re-handled by him — and
sharpened so much that it was barely half its original breadth. I had high hopes for this find in the
darker depths of my kitchen drawer, but upon seeing it, Alan said something along the lines of:
“I want to say this in the nicest possible way, but you buy the most awful things”
I took that as a no.
But when it comes to buying things, I’ve had rather a lot of success. After the Witan, I had bought
a spoon, a combat seax, many rolls of cloth for clothing and two shield bosses. All of them had been
passed, including the seax which got Alan’s praises when I presented it to him now. Not only that,
but a member of Milites de Bec — the evil Norman group — came over to ask where I bought it –
that must be ringing endorsement.
I hung Holly around the hall, transported things up and generally stood about chatting to people.
Before long, more people arrived and I went to get into kit. Alan produced a piece of leather from
his car and fashioned a belt there and then. Together with his shoes and his cloak, my costume
Sceaftesige sat on our own table, away from the high and low tables of the honoured guests and
from the roaring heat of the fire. If anything this was good, the weather was extremely mild for early
January and the hall was very adequately warm. Next to the Sceaftesige table was that of Hwitmearum,
towards the door was Y Cantref Breiniol, and hidden in the corner away from the door, and as far from the
food as we could get away with, was the large retinue of the evil de Bec.
A few people were going from table to table photographing the individual groups. They had to be
quick about it, as at six o’clock a horn was sounded — this was the start of the feast and no-one
was now allowed to take photos, use phones or other modern beepy things.
Then the feast began. The only light was from the candles on the tables and the roaring fire in the
middle, sparks shooting up towards the timbers and oak roof tiles. The food was brilliant, especially the
Norfolk dumpling, which I hope to find again at some point. The food wasn’t traditional, mainly because no-one
knows much about what they ate — the ingredients are known, but the recipes remain a mystery.
Various individuals of note decided to address the hall, from toasting the Queen, to singing 19th
songs, to hearing about the history of the Longhall, to harp playing, entertainment was
varied, traditional, inclusive and inspiring. One which I particularly liked was the story of taking the
Bear (one of the longships) to the Lake District and the catalogue of disasters which followed. But
instead of telling the story as he might down his local pub, he translated all of the modern terms
into historick ones which proved to be great entertainment for all. It occurred when a great Bear was travelling
south from a lake, or mere, where it was windy, some might call it Windermere. Low-loaders became Land Lizards,
punctures became injured paws and so it went on; much to everyone’s amusement.
I did feel we came as close as is feasible to a great Dark Age feast, but the modern world was
never too far away. I was particularly thankful during the night, as instead of an uncomfortable
straw bed, I had a technologically advanced inflatable mattress. I was slightly disappointed that my
idea of placing a bag to get me more space had failed, and even more so during the night when he
out-snorred everyone in the room. But in the end I slept well enough to be fully refreshed, to enjoy
breakfast, spill muesli over the floor, get to know the evil members of Milites de Bec and earn a few brownie points by
cleaning the scout hall.