Chetwynd Medieval Heritage SocietyChetwynd Medieval Heritage Society

Chetwynd Medieval Heritage Society: 2011

We held a wonderful Medieval Banquet on August 13th for our Society members and guests.

Some of the dishes from the 'Forme de Cury' of 1390 - a cookbook compiled by the chefs of the court of Richard II.

A Feast
Chawettys - the original mince pie
Gingerbread Castle
The Gingerbread Castle - A subtletye; with Flampoyntes,
an outstanding pork and cheese spiced pie in the background.

Issue #1 - Autumn 2010

A new Society is formed (January 2010)

On the 9th January 2010 a small group of friends interested in local history formed the Chetwynd Medieval Heritage Society. After a couple of informal meetings, it had been mutually agreed to create a formal Society with a committee.

Since then, interest in the Society's activities has grown and membership has also grown steadily - there are now 10 formal members, plus another 10 people that have expressed an interest in participating in future activities.

This newsletter provides a brief overview of what the Society has been up to in the last 12 months, plus a short list of events and activities that are planned for the forthcoming year.

Sambrook Village Hall Inaugural meeting (Spring 2010)

An Inaugural Meeting

Over 40 people attended Sambrook village hall on Tuesday 11th May 2010 for Chetwynd Medieval Heritage Society's inaugural meeting, which was a resounding success. Ten visitors indicated that they wanted to join the Society and participate in future events.

Society Treasurer Robin Spencer started the meeting with a PowerPoint presentation, outlining some ideas towards identifying a 'timeline' of the history of Chetwynd, based on preliminary facts gathered at recent meetings of CMHS committee members. It included the iron age boat found at Chetwynd in the 1970s, Roman coins (allegedly found and subsequently disappeared), Chetwynd's links with Lady Godiva (who owned much of the Chetwynd Manor before it was claimed by the crown after her death and re-distributed to Norman Knights by King William I), King Charles I visit to Chetwynd Manor during the Civil War, and the subsequent (Victorian) rise, then post second world war fall and final re-birth of Chetwynd in 1988 after the farm and estate buildings were sold off and re-developed into a thriving community of re-furbished houses. One future goal of the Society is to fill in many of the gaps of missing information within the timeline.

An History Talk

Local historian Julian Meason then gave a fascinating talk on how to organise archaeological field searches and presented some of the many items he has found locally, including Neolithic flints (from around 6,000 BC) which added another 3,500 years to the time line that Robin had presented earlier. The Society plans to work with Julian in the coming months to look at the Chetwynd archaeological finds and start to fill in some of the many remaining gaps in the timeline.

Joanna Spencer gave an interesting short talk on clothing styles in the late medieval period, and questioned the theories held by some historians that medieval peasant clothing was dull and boring by showing some of the vibrant colours that she had obtained by dying her own brushed sheep wool with dyes from home grown plants - Madder (bright orange) and Weld (bright yellow). At the break Liz Phillips gave a concise talk on the Domesday survey and how William 1 used the findings to tighten his grip on his holdings across England.

Arrow Removal
Owain Leech demonstrating the removal
of an arrow head to a Society member

Members of the audience were given copies of the original questions as well as a modern 'Domesday survey' adapted slightly to reflect modern lifestyles. The feedback is currently being analysed and the findings will be presented at the next Society open meeting. What was most rewarding was the buzz of conversations at the interval, as Society members, visitors and presenters discussed the points presented during the evening as well as the many displays around the village hall (which included extracts from the 1841 census for the areas in the Chetwynd parish prepared by Michael Shine). Musical entertainment was provided at the interval by John Royall who played various melodies on his medieval bagpipes.

The evening ended with a very lively account of medieval surgery by Owain Leech (Kevin Goodman), how natural anaesthetics and anti-septic preparations were known and used by some surgeons (but only if you were rich enough to be able to afford them), as well as a graphic description how the arrow head embedded in Prince Hal's skull was removed by an innovative piece of medieval instrumentation, without which Agincourt may not have enjoyed Hal's inspired leadership when he was King Henry V.

Committee members visitor talk (Tuesday 18th May)

After the formal business of the CMHS committee meeting had been dealt with, Don Langford of the Newport History Society gave in informal presentation of the finds he made at Tong Castle during the 1970's.

We were shown a medieval gold ring set with a garnet found in a well and other rings of a later date as well as many photographs of other finds. Don kindly donated a copy of the Domesday Book and other journals to the Society. It was a most interesting end to the evening.

Chetwynd Medieval Fayre Stand (July 2010)

The Fair Stand

A Medieval Fayre (in commemoration of the original Royal licence to have two fairs a year - one spring and one autumn) granted to the village of Chetwynd in 1318 by King Edward II, was held for the third time at Wellbank Farm in Pickstock. Entertainments included medieval dancing, re-enactments of medieval justice (by de Miles de Marche, from Shrewsbury), dark age and medieval combat demonstrations, a puppeteer and an abridged presentation of Chaucer's 'The Millers Tale'.

However, amidst the medieval traders and modern arts and crafts stands, Chetwynd Medieval Heritage Society had its own stand, which generated a lot of interest amongst the public and enabled the Society to present itself to local members of the community. Several committee members manned the stand, which included a presentation of historical artefacts (loaned by Julian Meason), copies of the research on Victorian Censi (carried out by Michael Shine), the sale of Edward II reproduction pennies (donated by Joanna) and a Tombola to raise funds for the Society. The team reckons that over 200 visitors came and had a look at the stand, which was deemed a great success, raising over £109 for the Society's funds, selling several tickets for the Medieval Banquet, recruiting four new CMHS members, and generally raising awareness about the existence of the Society and interest amongst the public to attend future events. Well done all!

Medieval Banquet (August 2010)

John Royal

30 guests attended the Medieval Banquet hosted by the Chetwynd Medieval Heritage Society. The meal took place on Saturday 14th August in a candle lit marquee at Wellbank Farm, decorated with fresh cuttings of beech hedging, lavender bouquets, and medieval wall hangings. As the guests arrived, they were greeted to the sound of the English medieval bagpipes (played by John Royall).

The evening started with a condensed reading from the Miller's Tale by Chaucer. The meal was based on recipes prepared by the chefs to King Richard II and written up in 1390 in a book called the 'Form of Cury' - cury being a medieval term for epicure (or cooking!). The menu included two types of fried pork balls, Flampoyntes (a spicy pork and cheese pie), Connynges in Cyrip (local rabbits stewed in spicy liquor), Douce Ame (roast chicken 'smote' into pieces and served in a white herbal sauce), spit roast pork with a sausage-herbs-currant stuffing (seasoned with garlic, coriander, pepper and caraway seed) and a vegetarian tarte de brie served with white bean salad, Makke (mashed white bean pulse) and peece pudding. And a half barrel of ale (Blooming Blond from the Red Lion at Cheswardine).

A Trencher

As in the Middle Ages, all food was eaten on bread trenchers (a hollowed out round loaf), and each guest had a wooden spoon and paring knife to eat with. The top table was covered with fine linen at which sat the 'honoured' guests, the central tables were of rougher oak with benches, where sat the 'lower orders'. Joanna gave a short talk on Medieval etiquette "dip your little finger into the sauce bowls, transfer the sauce onto your meat and wipe your finger clean on the napkins provided - never ever lick your finger, however tempting - the height of bad manners". While guests took a breather between refilling their trenchers, John played some beautiful music on his harp while the 'Lady Joanna' read a few verses from Tolkien's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Thereafter were three Medieval pudding favourites - Pears in red wine syrup, Daryols (saffron cream tart) and Rosee (rice pudding with dates, pine nuts and ginger), a selection of cheeses that would have been available 600 years ago (brie, camembert and cheddar), dates and nuts.

And then the jollities really began.

Medieval Dancing

The central tables were cleared, and 'volunteers' were given tuition in three Medieval dances by Robin, who also 'called' the dancing steps. The first dance was a boisterous Branle (pronounced brawl) - the Black Nag. This caused great merriment for dancers and spectators alike, especially the diddley, diddley, diddley calls for the fast second section of the dance. This was followed by a stately Pavane, which according to Joanna was “Elegantly performed and beautiful to watch”. The third was a circular country dance that all the guests joined in to finish the evening. John Royall played the recorder and bagpipe valiantly throughout all three dances, with many stops and starts and amidst much hilarity and laughter involving dancers and spectators alike. The Medieval dances were as much a performance for the spectators (especially the high table, towards which much of the dancers faced) as well as the actual pleasure of dancing for the dancers themselves.

The evening was hailed an outstanding success both by the Chetwynd Medieval Heritage Society members that organised the event and all the guests that came too.

Exploratory visit to Shrewsbury Archives (October 2010)

On Friday 1st October, a small group (6 people) of CMHS members went to the Shrewsbury archives for an exploratory visit to ascertain what historical resources are available that are relevant to the historical research that the Society seeks to undertake about life in and around Chetwynd. After meeting at the Albion for a pleasant lunch, we proceeded to the Archives. After one of the Archivists had explained the different types of historical data held in the archives and how to access them, members pored over local maps, learnt how to search the on-line archive to identify ancient documents, as well as published works. The highlight of the visit was being able to see the original Chetwynd market and fair charter granted by Edward II in 1218. The Society ordered a CD copy and Joanna will be asking scholastic friends in the Katherine Swinford Society if they could provide us with a translation of the Latin text.