The Battle of Lincoln Fair (2)

The Second Battle of Lincoln – or the Battle of Lincoln Fair– took place during the First Barons’ War on the 20th May 1217 at Lincoln Castle in Lincolnshire, England. As 2017 marks the battle’s 800th anniversary, it is being commemorated by reenactments of the battle itself together with accompanying activities for locals and visitors to enjoy. One of these extra attractions is the Knights’ Trail, which involves people finding 37 very colourfully painted models of mounted knights, all placed at prominent spots around central areas of the city.

Last Sunday (21st May) we went along to have a look at preparations for the battle and a general potter about at the castle. This Sunday (28th May) we headed off to watch the re-enactments of the different engagements involved. Needless to say the castle and surrounding areas were packed, particularly in the afternoon.

This was understandable for several reasons. Firstly, it was Bank Holiday weekend and the start of the half-term break for schools. Consequently, many families were out and about keeping children entertained as they usually are at such times. Secondly, people came to Lincoln over this particular weekend because the Domesday Book (compiled 1085-86) and Charter of the Forest (1217) were both on display along with the Magna Carta – which is resident there anyway, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral – inside the Old Prison which is in the castle bailey:

Both are incredibly important and precious documents, and although no photography was allowed, it was still wonderful to see them. The two documents will be in Lincoln throughout the summer.

The weather was pleasant with bursts of sunshine, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. We got there around 10.30 am and had a walk round the bailey, generally ‘having a look’ at the encampment of the reenactors and various items and activities going on before the first part of the battle began. These are a few photos from around the camp. Lots of knights were about at this point, too:

The events leading up to this battle are very much linked to King John, who had died the previous year (October 1216). John had been a very unpopular king for many reasons, most of which were based on his inability to rule wisely, as well as his questionable personality traits. When he died he left his son as king – the nine-year-old Henry – with the formidable William Marshal, the earl of Pembroke, as his regent.

Some of the barons who had rebelled against John during his reign and forced him to sign/seal the Magna Carta, had already taken steps to put the French Prince Louis (the future Louis VIII) on the English throne. On John’s death, a few of the barons returned to the loyalist side whilst others pushed on with their intentions of crowning Louis in order to stop John’s son from ruling. The kingdom was deeply divided over this.

Twenty-year-old Louis and his French armies had been in England since May 1216 and by May 1217, aided by the rebel barons, controlled half the country: only Lincoln and Dover castles had not surrendered. At the time of the battle at Lincoln Castle, the city itself was occupied by forces fighting for Louis, led by Thomas, the Comte du Perche. But the castle was steadfast. Lady Nicola de la Haye, the castellian, remained true to the royalist cause and was determined to keep this castle, with its strategic position, out of rebel hands.

Constable of Lincoln Castle, Lady Nicola de la Haye.

During the day, we watched three different events that took place at Lincoln. The first showed the arrival of the French at Lincoln and their attack on English defenders beneath the castle walls. The English are pushed back and those still alive flee up to the safety of the castle. The Comte du Perche, conspicuous with his shield displaying three chevrons, warns his men to be nice to the citizens of the city and pay for all their food and drink. It’s important to keep the people ‘on their side’!

The second reenactment showed the attack on the Lucy Tower/Lincoln Castle using two different siege engines. One of these was the perrier – one of the least complicated of medieval siege engines  It consisted of a simple frame with a huge 17 foot throwing arm with a sling. Some perriers are recorded as needing as many as 16 men to pull the ropes. It was the forerunner of the trebuchet, which has a large swinging arm to hurl missiles at the enemy and a counterweight to swing the arm. This very short clip shows the two siege engines being used on the day. The first we see is the trebuchet:

The Comte du Perche sees the bombardment as a great success, as parts of the castle walls begin to crumble.

The third engagement – the actual Battle of Lincoln Fair – followed the arrival of reinforcements for the English, led by the formidable, 70-year-old William Marshal, the earl of Pembroke and regent to the young King Henry III. This was him as he delivered his his speech about his life and duties to the Crown to the crowds earlier in the day:

Marshal had roused his loyal barons from across the country and ridden to Lincoln. The arrival of his army, together with the steadfast hold on Lincoln Castle by Lady Nicola, proved to be decisive factors in the defeat of the rebels – and the end of their attempt to put a French prince on the English throne.

We attempted several videos of this battle but, unfortunately, there were so many spectators (and we got there too late after lunch!) to grab a good spot for photography. I managed to squat on the grass near the front – until these to two delightful little boys with buckets on their heads  – in reality, replica battle helms – decided to take the space in front of me:

I eventually managed a few photos during this battle, some of which show Lady Nicola taking stock of events from the gateway of the Lucy Tower:

Nick managed to film part of the battle, before people walked in front of him. It’s not too wonderful ‘ He missed Marshals’  rallying speech to his army, and the film  had to be cut before the end, but it gives a general idea of events. The English come in from the left on this one, and William Marshal is on horseback.

Following this short clip, English soldiers come up behind the French. Caught between two attacking armies, the rebels are soon overwhelmed. Thomas, Comte du Perche, is shown being cut down in the arena – contrary to the 13th century drawing by Matthew Paris which shows him being shot down by a crossbowman as he fled from the castle. But, whatever happened, the comte obviously died that day.

Following the battle, Marshal’s soldiers ransacked the city that had welcomed and supported the French. Most Lincoln people had hated King John and welcomed the possibility of a new king from France. Marshal’s army used that as an excuse to pillage at will as they celebrated their triumph over the combined armies of the French and rebel English barons.

And thus we have the name of The Battle of Lincoln Fair: a celebratory post-battle ‘free for all’ for William Marshal’s victorious army.

The Battle of Lincoln Fair (1): Preparations

I’ve written a few posts about visits and events connected to Lincoln Castle over the past couple of years, including the wonderful, German-style Christmas Market held annually in the castle grounds. But perhaps the most important events of recent years were in 2015, which focused on the 800 year anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runneymede in 1215.

19th century coloured wood engraving of king John signing the Magna Carta. Public Domain

That Lincoln should become so involved with the Magna Carta anniversary is understandable, since one of only four of the remaining original documents from Runneymede is held at Lincoln Castle – on loan from Lincoln Cathedral. Two are held at the British Library and one at Salisbury Cathedral.

The Magna Carta anniversary involved lots of events throughout the summer in Lincoln, including the Barons’ Trail and the amazing sand sculptures displayed in the castle bailey. They all did wonders for tourism in the city and gave everything a very holiday feel.

This year, Lincoln is celebrating another anniversary, that of the Battle of Lincoln Fair (also known as the Second Battle of Lincoln) which took place in and around Lincoln Castle in 1217. This event is also linked to the infamous King John, even though he’d died the previous year.

This event is being held over two separate weekends and we went along to the first part  yesterday, Sunday May 21. This one was held in the castle bailey and presented the  preparations for battle. The second part, the actual reenactment of the battle itself, will be next weekend from Saturday to Monday, May 27-29 (Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK).

As with the Barons’ Trail of 2015, this anniversary is made fun for the city and its many visitors by having a Knights’ Trail throughout the central areas of the city. It’s a great activity for kiddies (and adults!) to hunt all 37 of the knights out. The knights are already in place, and we started photographing them yesterday. I hope to do a post about them all soon. The photo of Nicola de la Haye (or Nicholaa de la Haye, according to some sources) at the top of this post is one of them.

I don’t intend to do a full post about Lincoln Castle itself here: that’s set for a future date. But I’ll just say a little about it before I show photos of the event.

Lincoln Castle was built in 1068 on the orders of William the Conquerer. It stand on the site of the Roman fortress and settlement of Lindum Colonia (which dates from around AD60) in ‘uphill Lincoln’. This elevated position ensures the castle has commanding views of the surrounding countryside and can also be seen for miles  – as can the nearby Cathedral. It is probable that, prior to the Roman fort, a Celtic settlement once occupied the site, which I’ll discuss another time.

The castle at Lincoln was one of the finest Norman castles in the country. It consists of an outer curtain wall (with an excellent Wall Walk along the top) along which are two gates – the East and West Gates, the former having a barbican, or fortified entrance. Three towers stand along the walls, two of them built on top of mottes (mounds or small hills, often man-made for the purpose). The two towers sitting on mottes are the Lucy Tower and the Observatory Tower, the one without a motte is Cobb Hall, at the north-east corner of the wall.

Inside the curtain wall is a large bailey (courtyard) in which there are three buildings of more recent origins. The first part of the Old Prison dates from 1788 and was completed in 1848. The Court House, which is still used today, dates from 1826, and the Heritage Skills Centre is a real baby, having only been officially opened in 2013. It’s  the only new building within the castle walls for 150 years. It lies immediately behind the Law Courts:

Here are a few more photos of the castle, most taken from the Wall Walk. Some look down at the bailey, one or two at places beyond the castle, others along the wall itself:

I’ll save the detail and views inside the different towers for another time.

Tents and stalls were set up in the bailey for this event. Some of the attractions included ‘having a go’ at archery and instruction on the use and importance of  the crossbow. A  number of stalls showed foods and weapons of the time and there were birds of prey trained for hunting on display. We missed the actual presentation of the different birds of prey as we were up on top of the wall at the time. Still, we heard the falconer announce that he couldn’t allow the birds to fly at present because of the peregrines nesting on the cathedral – who would see his birds as competition and we could end up witnessing an airborne battle!

Here are a few photos of attractions and displays from around the Bailey, from ground level:

And here are a few of two of the demonstrations we watched. The fist was of knights (comically) preparing for battle.

The second was of three mounted knights displaying their skills in attacking their opponents – one of the ‘opponents’ being a cabbage, which represented the head of a Norman knight. 😀 The smaller of the three horses was included to demonstrate the type of horse/pony used prior to Norman times. It’s the type that was used by the Vikings and is the only breed to be found in Iceland today.

Finally, here are a few photos of Nicola de la Haye (the constable of the castle) and an episode with a French envoy who had come to persuade her to surrender the castle to the French invaders who intended to put their own Prince Louis on the English throne. In doing that, they would simply depose the son of King John – the nine-year-old Henry III. The French were supported in this by the barons who had rebelled against King John. Nicola adamantly refuses and, as the French have already landed in England, she prepares the castle garrison for forthcoming battle:

And absolutely lastly, the Battle of Lincoln Fair was named from the festivities that followed in Lincoln after the French were defeated in the battle. This drawing, by Matthew Paris in the 13th century, shows the death of the French commander as the French flee from the castle. It also shows the importance of the crossbow.

Image from Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain

 

The Lincoln Santa Run 2016

lincoln-unis-macmillan-cancer-support

Today, Sunday December 11, we decided to head into Lincoln to watch the annual University of Lincoln Santa Fun Run, organised by the The Rotary Club of Lincoln Colonia in aid of a number of local charities. The university itself sponsors Macmillan Cancer Support.

some-of-local-charities-involved

This was the eleventh time the Lincoln Fun Run has taken place, and just like the brilliant Christmas market held annually over the first weekend of December, each year has seen the event growing in size and popularity. This year, well over 2,500 santas took part – as well as over 200 canine ones. We’ve been a couple of times in the past but had never bothered to take photographs before. So today we went with determination!

The run was scheduled to start at 11.30 am, but we got there well before 10 o’ clock, purely to make sure we found somewhere to park – and to find ourselves a ‘viewing spot’ near the front in order to take the photos. Last time we went, we were a long way back in the crowds and all I managed to see was the odd flash of red now and then. 😦  So we mooched about and took a few pics here and there of the organisers making the final preparations to the route, as well as the gathering santas and supporters.

The ‘compere’ kept supporters entertained as we massed, and at one stage he asked whether any of us were visitors from distant places. It was interesting to note that amongst those were people from Australia, New York and California.

The photos below show one on the inflatable santas going up. The run eventually started behind this cheery chappie, at the other side of the castle.

Here are just a few photos of ‘The Gathering of the Santas’ – as we decided to call it. The santas in the blue suits were running in support of Nepal.

The ‘Run’ itself was a lot of fun and spectators added to that with their support of the participants. Some of the faster runners completed the 3.5 km (2 mile) run very quickly, but everyone was well encouraged and cheered on. The route involved two laps, part of which circled the imposing cathedral.

And lastly, here’s a short video we made of the ‘Run’. (No, I haven’t got a tripod yet! 🙂 )

The Lincoln Christmas Market 2015

Between Castle and Cathedral

Over the last weekend, the annual Christmas Market was held in Lincoln. As always, stalls stretched across a section of ‘uphill’ part of the city known as the cultural area – i.e. where the castle and cathedral are.  This area is, literally, ‘uphill’. Lincoln is a strangely shaped city: parts of it are at the top of the hill and some stretches out at the bottom. The slope in betweeen the two is quite steep, though it is built on, of course, and the main, narrow road leading from the main shopping area of lower Lincoln to the top of the hill is aptly called, Steep Hill.

Top of Steep Hill
Top of Steep Hill before it dips down towards the lower part of the city

This year, we decided to visit the market in the evening, when it feels the most atmospheric. Last year we had a daytime visit, simply so we could take photos. I’m glad we did, because this year, our photos haven’t turned out well at all. I’ll share a few on this post, but a better view of the stalls and goods on offer can be seen on my last year’s post here. (Oddly enough, I posted that one on December 7th last year.)

As I said last year, the Lincoln Christmas Market is one of the oldest in England and the first one to be ‘German-styled’. It started in 1982 following the ‘twinning of the city with Neustadt in Germany, with an initial eleven stalls standing between the cathedral and castle. These two pictures are the same German stall with the name Neustadt on it. The one on the left was taken this year, at night, and the other during the daytime last year:

Now stalls spread through the castle grounds and along some of the streets –

and the fun fair, along with more stalls, takes over nearby carparks:

At the main gateway into the castle grounds was this welcoming figure. One of the ‘Barons’ of Magna Carta fame from throughout the summer had taken on his new role:

The majority of stalls were inside the castle grounds, many the traditional chalet style, others beneath a number of marquees. There were many goods on offer, on stalls from several European countries as well as different areas of Britain. German stalls were prevalent, as to be expected due to the ‘twinning’. Many of them sold food and drinks of one type or another, both hot and cold.

Here are a few of the dozens of photos we took around the  market and castle grounds. Many were just too ‘glary’ due to the bright lights.

Well, that’s it for this year about the Lincoln Christmas Market. Now I need to think of a post about all the ‘mini barons’ that are hidden around the city. We’ve managed to find quite a few.

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Reunion and Farewell To The Barons

117 Farewell Header

On Sunday morning we drove once again up to Lincoln Castle. This time, it was to have a look at an event held in the castle grounds called ‘The Lincoln Barons’ Reunion’. The photo of the Baron above is the ‘Baron of the Crystal Hues’. (Unfortunately, my husband’s shadow is hiding his name!)

This event, held from Thursday, September 24th until Tuesday, October 1st, is a chance for people to see all 25 Barons together before they’re auctioned on the evening of October 1st. The money raised will go to the national charity, The Trussell Trust – who organised the construction and displaying of the Barons in the city, along with Lincoln BIG, a business improvement group.

The Baron’s Trail was devised by ‘Wild in Art’ – an organisation that aims to make creativity and enjoyment of art accessible to people by working with artists, communities and schools and producing high profile and popular events. Individual artists from all over the country created the colourful barons, which have been displayed in locations around Central Lincoln throughout the summer. This one, the ‘Anything Goes Baron’ was standing on the bridge over the River Witham along the High Street:

066 Baron 7

I wrote about the reason for ‘The Barons’ Trail’ in an earlier post but, in a nutshell, it was part of the city’s celebrations to mark 800 years since King John signed the Magna Carta (Great Charter) at Runneymede. One of the original copies of the Treaty is housed in Lincoln Castle, so the city was justified in hosting so many celebratory events.

The Barons who ordered John to sign the Treaty are represented in these life-sized, smile-inducing models we are now saying ‘Goodbye’ to. Last week, they were gathered up from their different sites and I’ve no doubt that the area will look quite dull without them. They’ve been a big attraction for locals and tourists alike, the characterful barons and the ‘Trail’ proving to be one of the highlights of the Magna Carta anniversary celebrations nationwide. Children in particular found it great fun to find the code letter on each one in order to claim the promised bag of gold coins (gold paper-covered, chocolate ones, of course).

There were a lot of people already in the castle grounds when we arrived just after 10 am – the opening time. Consequently, it was difficult for photo-taking. We’d hoped to be able to get a few good shots of many of the Barons all together, but that wasn’t at all easy. Firstly, the barons were placed further apart than shown on the advertising blurb, and secondly, people were standing close to individual Barons. That’s understandable, so we just went with the flow and got some ‘not-so-good’ photos.  Here’s  a few of them:

A mini ‘Paint Your Own Baron’ can be bought at The Lincoln Visitor Information Centre (shown below in the wonderful old building located on Castle Hill, between the castle and the cathedral) and a competition to win a free mini model of a Baron is also up and running. And finally, every shop in the city centre will be given their own mini Baron to paint and decorate in time for the Christmas season. By doing so, they will be creating a Christmas Baron’s Trail. These mini characters, unlike their bigger brothers, will be harder to find. Many will be ‘ hiding’ amongst other items displayed in the windows of shops and businesses.

I’ll probably do an update on the mini barons around Christmas. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find and photograph some of them in their hiding places. Until then, I’ve got a few more posts on Malta and other places we’ve visited this year to keep me going.