Wow! What an experience we've just had at England's Medieval Festival. The festival is in it's 24th year and is set in the stunning grounds of Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex.
This 300 acre estate includes walled gardens, woodland and a 15th century moated castle - creating a stunning backdrop for the festival.
From 1957 to 1988 its grounds were the home of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Now, as well as operating throughout spring and summer as a popular tourist attraction, Herstmonceux Castle also operates as an International Study Centre. It is owned by Queen’s University, Canada, the castle hosts international students every year. There's a little bit about the history - now the fun part.
We opted to camp in the castle grounds for the weekend. We arrived on Friday afternoon, drove straight onto the site and chose an area to pitch our tents in the family camping area. This year there was also a glamping option where you could hire a bell tent for the weekend. Once we'd unloaded the car - we then moved it into the parking area just a short distance away.
What an amazing view we had too!
For those of you who asked - our watermelon tents and sunshades are from FieldCandy do check out their fab designs.
For us campers there was some evening entertainment including drumming and music in the Buxom Wench Tavern, stargazing and an outdoor cinema showing films such as Robin Hood, Brave and How to Train Your Dragon.
There were toilets nearby and taps to fill your water bottles and do your washing up, showers were available in Bader Hall.
The festival kicked off at 10am on Saturday. If, like us, you are a fan of films such as Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, you will feel like you've been whisked into a fairy tale. The costumes and music are fantastic.
The sights and smells are amazing. The day usually started off with drumming and a grand parade followed by a re-enactment siege in front of the castle with gun shots, arrows, sword fights and a trebuchet.
Saturday was a sweltering hot day we had a good explore around the castle grounds and the beautiful walled gardens followed by a go at archery. Archery varied in price between £1 for thee arrows or £5 for 12 arrows.
The children enjoyed the woodland craft area, Fin played in the little village with the toys whilst the girls made headdresses from ivy and lavender.
In the Royal Arena there were two displays daily of falconry and jousting, both were brilliant.
We watched some amazing performances from PerKelt, a Celtic speed folk group, we are now big fans and Shan would like to learn the recorder, the mud theatre was hilarious and the elemental fire show was great.
Around the outside of the grounds were living history demonstrations with set-ups of how life used to be in Medieval times.
We took a budget of £70 for the weekend and we'd got through the majority of it by Saturday. There is temptation all around, especially in the market place, The traders stalls were all fantastic, full of jewellery, replica weapons, armour, kids wooden swords and axes, drinking horns, crystals, tankards and of course Mead - the drink of Vikings. I had never tried Mead before, but I have to say I am a fan. I have come home with a bottle of Dragon's Breath which is a cherry and elderberry flavour mead.
There was a stall where you could make your own candles, you could have your hands set in wax, which involved having your hands dipped in hot wax and then cooled off in a bucket of water.
There were also a lot of stalls selling bohemian style clothes, parasols and dream catchers. I was in heaven!
Do take cash. There are no cash machines on site. Some of the traders do take card payments but the majority don't
The festival closed for the day to visitors at 6pm - then after 7pm the campers were welcome back into the festival grounds for more entertainment including a torch lit parade which we followed from the top of the camping ground down to the front of the castle.
There was live music in the Buxom Wench tavern every night.
The camp site was fairly quiet and patrolled at night time by security, we all slept really well in our tents.
You could also opt to take part in a Medieval Banquet which we didn't do, or even get married and have a handfasting, I saw a bride passing our tent on Saturday morning!
The programme of entertainment continued on Sunday and Monday, so we got to try out a few more activities. There was axe throwing and have-a-go jousting and a battle taking place on the field.
There were a few food stalls and also food was available at the Buxom Wench including Ploughmans and a hog roast. Behind the Royal Arena you could buy burgers, hotdogs, rolls and twisted chips. Food ranged from £3 upwards.
Opposite the Knights Tavern were paella and seafood, the Sussex Sausage, Sir Munch-a-lot and a cute caravan selling cakes.
Dogs on leads were welcome at the festival and on the camp site. There was a lovely huge Irish Wolfhound staying near us and we saw many breeds such as Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows, Akitas and a Wolf Dog.
We left on Monday as Lee was due back at work but we were welcome to have stayed until Tuesday lunchtime. The camping experience was well worth it, for three days entry into the festival plus all the extra entertainment in the evening and of course the beautiful views.
So, would I recommend England's Medieval Festival for next year? Yes! It was the most amazing experience and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Whether you choose to camp or come for the day - you'll have a magical time.
Keep an eye on social media for updates of next years event, a family day ticket this year was around £46.
Thanks for the memories England's Medieval Festival.
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