This blog entry is called The loxwood joust review as its a review of an unique event that’s called (surprise surprise) The loxwood Joust. “But what is the Loxwood Joust and what makes it so unique” I hear you ask. Well I shall tell you.
What is The Loxwood Joust;
The Loxwood Joust is fast becoming the best and most unique medieval event of the year. Not just a firm favorite with re-enactors, many of whom come year after year, but also with the public, for they know a good event when they see one. In fact it’s become such a popular event that they had no choice but to extend it from one, to two weekends! Always the first two weekends of August.
Firstly, unlike many medieval events, they don’t simply hire a field near a castle. Instead the owner hunted high and low, scouring the country for the perfect venue. Then, once he’d found it (at loxwood, which is quite a coincidence when you consider that it’s called the loxwood Joust), he didn’t just rent a field or two, he brought them! and not just the meadows, but also the woodland surrounding the meadows.
Every year he clears more and more of the undergrowth, creating new and different areas for even more fun filled entertainment. This is an important and (in my humble opinion) a much understated attraction of the festival, and here’s why.
Why is The Loxwood Joust unique;
Picture the scene if you will. It’s a sunny sunday in August and you’ve taken the whole family to the loxwood joust. To add to the fun the kids are dressed as knights and princess’s. Even daddy has joined in the fun and brought himself a cheap fancy dress knights costume. A fact that he is now regretting. For as you watch the loxwood jousters charging towards each other at break neck speed. Their lances lifting knights clean from their saddles and planting firmly on their backsides, or face down in the grass. So you’ve become aware of several things.
Firstly you realize that the black nylon of your costume is absorbing the suns heat and turning into a mobile one man sauna. And as for the tin foil helmet? Well that’s now baking your head crisper than a christmas turkey. Despite your best efforts, the children are dehydrating, and as for the smell. You’re now acutely aware that, what you thought was piped in medieval smells, is actually a result of the wife’s sweaty armpits!
At any other event you’d be tempted to call it a day and head home, but not so at the loxwood joust. Here you just about turn and take a slow walk down the gentle slope. Then, in under two minutes, you find yourself within the sweet shade of a wooded glen. Once in the glen you see a clearing that’s shaded by a canopy of green oak leaves. On one side of the clearing is a large, rustic looking stage with an abundance of hay bales sprawled in front of it. You sit on one and watch the show. Maybe it’s a juggler who’s nearly as funny and skillful as myself, or actors performing a centuries old mummers play. Or maybe, just maybe, the stage is adorned with those heavenly elfin like maidens known as “The Medieval Baebes”. You sit a while transfixed as, with voices clearer and sweeter than a mountain spring, England’s premier medieval band verbally caress your very soul with enchanting ballads from days gone by.
Or maybe you sit at the cafe situated opposite the stage and treat your wife to that most quintessentially English of herbal potions, a nice hot cup of tea. Then, as she sits there contentedly watching the stage show whilst the kids sup on ye olde coca-cola. So you wander over to the conveniently placed tavern and sample a glass or two of loxwood mead, nectar of the gods.
Fortified by it’s sweet, honey based properties and feeling a lot cooler, you ask the kids if they’re brave enough to venture further into the woods? and brave they must be, for once you’ve crossed over the wooden bridge, you leave behind the woodland stage and enter an area known as
The Wytches Wood;
Now like any self respecting witch, the witches that live here have a large cauldron that bubbles a murky brew of secret herbs. The magical powers of which are known only to the most wise of witches. But unlike those fabled witches from your childhood story books, these ones don’t wear black pointy hats or have an evil cackle for a laugh. These are true traditional witches who can give you a true rune reading should the urge take you. Alternatively they can also curse you to the 3rd generation should the urge take them.
You loiter a while and chat with the witches. Then you’re distracted by a deep, menacing growl. You turn to look for what ever made such a evil sound and there, through the trees and rearing up from behind some ruins, is a dragon! Before it, chained to a tree is a helpless princess. A sacrifice sent to appease the demon serpent from hell. “Fear not” says a witch, and she explains to you not only the hypnotic powers of dragons, but also how to ensure that you don’t fall under its hypnotic spell.
Then, as one, you all turn towards the sounds coming from the footpath. As you gaze through the trees so you see that the sounds of clanking metal comes from an army of soldiers that, with grimly set faces, advance through the trees and on towards the battle ground.
Your kids are rehydrated, the wife’s arm pits have calmed down and stopped singing to you quite so painfully and your helmet is now cool enough to place on your head as, with more excitement than the children. You lead the family back through the woods, following the army towards
The battle of loxwood;
The crowd gathers around the battle field as excitement and anticipation fills the air. For today, there’s going to be a battle of epic proportions. The type that the bards will sing about for years to come. A battle so marvelous that even the Morrigan, that ancient celtic goddess of battle madness has come to watch. You know this as you hear her voice, louder than any mortals, as she not only tells you the background to the battle, but also gives a running commentary as the battle unfolds. using her divine magic to make her voice come out of the strange black boxes that are conveniently placed around the battle field.
two great armies face each other, both ready to fight to the death. Suddenly a great cry raises up from one army and they charge, swords and axes raised high. The opposing army responds with an equally blood curdling cry as they too charge forwards. With a mighty crash the two foes meet in mortal combat as sword meets not just sword, but also shield, flesh and bone.
Before you stand two brave knights. they have broken away from the main melee and now fight man against man. They fight for their kings, for honour, but most of all, they fight to stay alive as each tries to kill the other.
One knight retreats as the other, his vorpal blade going snicker snack, advances. Your son tells you the names of the various cuts and thrusts used by each knight. He knows them because earlier in the day you spent some fun filled hours in
The children’s kingdom;
Here he attended the knights training where, for a few groats, a mighty soldier from bowlore and veteran of many a battle took your son under his wing and taught him the knightly art of swordsmanship. Whilst your daughter, too lady like to partake in such base activities, tried out the face painting stall. here your cute little princess sat with a beaming smile whilst the artistic painters used their skills to give her a lovely sword wound to the face. From there you wandered over to the jesters school of…..well……jestering. Here, in front of our brightly coloured medieval encampment, Jester Dragonfly helps not just knights and princess’s learn circus skills, but also their mothers and fathers. After a while the school shuts for a break as it’s arena becomes a stage for yet another highlight of The loxwood Joust.
The area in front of our tents soon fills with people. Adults standing at the rear and children of all ages sitting in front. then my show begins and I open with the regurgitating ping pong balls (of doom). This is followed by the jumping dragons (of doom). A bespoke piece of magic that I commissioned especially for medieval festivals and themed parties. Next comes the 3 ball juggling routine (of doom). A routine so skillful that most jugglers would give their right arm to be able to perform it. but whether your favourite part is the razor blunt knives (of doom), the 5 ball juggling (of doom) or the worlds only card trick performing duck (of doom). The fact is that my show is just like The Loxwood Joust. I.E. good family entertainment for the whole family.
So whatever your highlight is. Be it the battle or the medieval baebes, the jousting or the jester, the truth is that the Loxwood joust really is a fun packed day. Its not just a medieval festival, it’s a medieval experience. One that will leave not just the kids, but also the adults dreaming of a time when knights rode free, dragons roared, and ancient lovers………well, they done what lovers do best.
Such is the magic of England’s premier medieval festival. The infamous
Our next event is Englands Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux castle in east sussex. This is englands largest medieval festival. One that we’re proud to have been part of for well over 20 years!