Autumn Heritage Season ...
After the Summer battlefields season (locally, for me, the season is ... Naseby: 14th June; Northampton 1460: 10th July; Edgcote 1469: 24th July; Bosworth: 22nd August) we were out and about, promoting the battlefields at a number of local heritage events. These are also geared to a military date: Northamptonshire Day is the 25th October ... the feast of St Crispin, patron saint of cobblers and leatherworkers. And the anniversary of Agincourt and of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Heritage Open Days
On the 14th and 15th September, Northampton participated in Heritage Open Days.
Basically a bus tours around the town stopping at participating sites ... you can get off, do whatever the 'attraction' has to offer, then, generally an hour later, hop back on the next bus - and go to another stop.
We did an hour mixing an interpretation of the Eleanor Cross - the vantage point from which the archbishop of Canterbury watched the battle of Northampton - and an overview of the battle itself (there's a great view of the battlefield just the other side of the curtain of trees that borders the cross).
The Northamptonshire Battlefields Society has long campaigned to have the cross properly conserved, to restore the 'Eleanor Cross' view of the battlefield (by establishing a proper path through to a proper viewpoint, all with full accessibility) and to put up new interpretation panels.
In fact most of our visitors did not come by the Heritage Bus ... but just showed up on the hour because they'd heard we were doing tours.
This is great as it shows the levels of local support and the continual demand for access to the heritage and a pride and joy in the stories of the past. Despite the rubbish sometimes peddled, there's a great deal of interest in military history and heritage - and so many people want it protected and explained.
OK, it's a bit of a busman's holiday but on the Saturday night I popped over to Crowland where the SK were doing the night attack with lots of drama and pyrotechnics (well, lots of old fashioned fire, anyway ...) and it all looked splendid.
We had beer and hotdogs and the evening ended with fireworks, a slightly weary drive home (and an early start putting that gazebo back up again in the morning).
I'm pretty sure we achieved something over the weekend.
In another important dvelopment, The Friends of Kettering Art Gallery and Museum, in asociation with the Kettering District Art Society, have taken on an empty shop in the town's shopping mall. Broadly, it's a community venture to give outreach for the Gallery and Museum and to showcase the work of local artists. And to brighten up the shopping centre.
They asked me/the battlefields society (I'm currently the charity's outgoing treasurer) to put in some exhibits on local history to support the museum side of the brief.
Initially, as space allowed and the Autumn shows weren't upon us, we put in models of the battlefields of Northampton, Edgcote and Naseby (readers of this blog will doubtless be familiar with the first two of those) ...
(Edgcote and Northampton at ARTworks, Kettering)
In some ways, this is not dissimilar to the stuff we do at Campaign in MK every year. We get to explain to ordinary folk the military history that lies beneath their local park or in a farmer's field - and explain it all with toy soldiers and model terrain. Most people like it.
(meeting the public over battlefield tables: the NBS installations at ARTworks)
(Fascinated by Edgcote: is that really Robin Hood?)
Some scenes from NORTHAMPTON 1460 (15mm figures)
(Northampton 1460: the Yorkists win the cavalry skirmish that preceded the battle)
(Northampton at ARTworks: a view from the ramparts)
I also took along some of my collection of display flats ... sort of to bridge the art to military models gap (well, that's my excuse ... really it's just putting soldiers in front of people in the hope that it triggers something - especially with youngsters).
We've kept the temporary exhibition going longer than originally planned, as it has been very popular. We'll do a few more hands-on days in the run up to Christmas.
The Edgcote and Naseby models had to come out of the shop to go on their joint respective tables at the Beeb's Northamptonshire day - this year in the beautiful walled garden at Castle Ashby.
(The multiply handed NBS team talked to the public all day, handed out leaflets and sold books)
More of the same, this is a more self-selected audience than in the shop - they've come to a heritage/local produce fair because they're already sort of interested. There were several quite sharp showers in the afternoon (file under 'Summer in Northamptonshire') and that brought crowds into our marquee.
(Northamptonshire and Naseby luminaries getting engaged with the BBC's big day)
Naseby and Edgcote at Northamptonshire Day
(BBC Northamptonshire Day: 2020 will be a big year at Naseby - a 375 celebration:watch out for news)
(Autumn 2019: Parliament defends our liberties - in miniature)
(in a marquee in Castle Ashby: Edgcote 1469 - Herbert attacks the 'riviere')
(Edgcote 1469: Robin of Redesdale defends the little stream that crosses Danesmoor)
(Edgcote 1469 phase II: Herbert's infantry attack ... in the background, Gates and Parr arrive to shore up the rebels)
(Edgcote 1469 endgame: John Clapham arrives with 500 rascals from Northampton shouting 'a Warwick! A Warwick!')
Very worthwhile, we all got interviewed on the radio, and Mike and Graham got to talk from the bandstand (about Northampton and Edgcote respectively) - plus a lot of good was done.
... and on October 12th, it was the Heritage Forum's History Day ... hosted in Kettering by the Friends of the Art Gallery and Museum and the Civic Society. My involvement was primarily enabling the Gallery and Museum stuff to go smoothly and contributing a segment later in the day on the graveyard tour ...
(Cemetery tour: in which we meet a number of prominent people from the past - soldiers, artists, doctors, educators, philanthropists etc.)
... and I get back to St. Crispin's day (on which day, in 1854, lord Cardigan led the Charge of the Light Brigade, veterans of which lie at rest in London Road Cemetery).
Northamptonshire Battlefields Society (Forum members) provided the AV for the event.
(History Day: lots of local heritage and history groups attended and were allocated small tables around the perimeter)
(Northamptonshire Battlefields Society at History Day)
Although there wasn't room for the big battlefields, Graham has made a small model of Edgcote to take to talks and book signings - and that was made to fit.
(NHF History Day: a portable Edgcote battlefield with 6mm figures)
At this event - even more 'self selecting' than the BBC Day - we made a number of good contacts that will help us move the agenda forward. And it was fully sold out. It was a success and made a small charitable surplus for the organising bodies.
And there was plenty of sandwiches, tea and cake.
(History Day in Kettering: keeping it real)