Medieval battle to be brought back to life at town’s new festival
PUBLISHED: 15:03 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:21 12 March 2019
It was a sword day, a red day, a day when the ground shook as bloody retribution was meted out on upstart rebels and their pretender king in the final clash of the Peasants’ Revolt.
And now the 1381 Battle of North Walsham, which was last week given the Alan Partridge treatment, looks set to make a come back - with medieval-themed activities replacing the slaughter and struggle.
A newly-formed Battle of 1381 Group is working on plans for a three-day Peasants’ Revolt festival to take place in North Walsham.
Envisaged as an annual event, it is hoped the festival will draw thousands of visitors to North Walsham and spark an interest in the town’s rich heritage.
Businessman Rob Scammell, one of the organisers, said the project came under the North Walsham Heritage Group, and they hoped to run it in partnership with the history group Black Knight Historical.
He said: “We think we need to bring the town’s history alive a lot more. It would definitely increase footfall and bring thousands of people into the town. Last year, we had fireworks in the park and a summer in the park event and they both attracted large numbers, so we want to follow that success.”
MORE: Alan Partridge re-enacted it - but what was the Battle of North Walsham?
Mr Scammell said talks about the Peasants’ Revolt would be given in schools, and the festival itself would start with a medieval feast at St Nicholas Church on a Friday evening, followed by a procession to Memorial Park.
On the Saturday, there would be jousting, a market with medieval craft stalls and food, and other events at the park and in the town centre. The Sunday would see the battle re-enacted by scores of people in costume.
The real battle saw the ‘Fighting Bishop’ Henry le Despenser of Norwich defeat rebels protesting against worsening conditions led by ‘King of the Commons’ Geoffrey Litster. Alan Partridge, played by Steve Coogan, spoofed it on last week’s episode of his new BBC1 series This Time.
The town council is putting £5,000 towards the festival, planned to take place in June 2020, and the overall cost is expected to be £27,000, with grant money covering another £10,000.
Barry Hester, mayor, said: “It’s an excellent idea. If we do it well the first time it would just roll on and pay for itself, like the 1940s festival they have in Sheringham.”