Crowds watch a battle from last year's festival.

Barnet Medieval Festival to return next weekend

Barnet Medieval Festival will return next weekend, on 10 and 11 June, promising battles, medieval markets, and a feudal fashion show.

The annual event, which began in 2018, will re-enact two key battles from the War of the Roses.

Noblemen, noble war?

This year, visitors can look forward to a re-enactment of the Second Battle of St Albans in 1461 and the Battle of Barnet in 1471.

The War of the Roses was fought over whether the throne should be held by the House of Lancaster or House of York.

Lancastrians chose a red rose to represent their side while Yorkists used a white rose, inspiring the war’s name.

The conflict spanned 32 years and four kings, only one of whom died naturally.

Festival Director Dr Susan Skedd said: “It is not a noble battle. It is mostly driven by self-interest by the powerful people at the top of the tree.

“It’s part of our national history, and it’s best not to sugar-coat it.”

The re-enactments promise to be very authentic, with Dr Skedd estimating that it will take half an hour for re-enactors to put on their heavy armour.

One man even crafts his own armour.

Re-enactors, who are all volunteers, must also have £5 million in public liability insurance.

Re-enactors at last year's festival fire a cannon.
Re-enactors kick things off with a bang at last year’s festival. Copyright: Aidan Taub

Feudal fashion

For the first time ever, the festival will include a medieval fashion show.

In the medieval era, wearing the wrong thing could be criminal.

Sumptuary laws controlled everything from who could wear purple to who could sport spikes on their shoes.

Peasants were especially restricted by these laws.

But at Barnet Medieval Festival, everyone is invited to embrace the fashion of the time.

Archers take aim at the 2022 festival. Copyright: Aidan Taub
Archers take aim at the 2022 festival. Copyright: Aidan Taub

Like the circus

Despite its bloody history, the War of the Roses looms large in the popular imagination.

George R. R. Martin used the conflict as an inspiration for Game of Thrones.

Philippa Gregory, who has reportedly sold more than 10 million books, set many of her novels during this period.

And every year, The University of York and Lancaster University compete in the Roses Tournament.

Dr Skedd experienced this enthusiasm first hand, with one woman even phoning from the USA to ask if she could reserve tickets to the festival for her.

She said: “I’m looking forward to the magical moment when you see this feast of medieval tents laid out on an lovely bit of green open space in Barnet. It is breath-taking.

“It’s a wonderful thing. And then of course, just like the circus, by Monday morning it’s completely deserted.”

You can buy tickets to Barnet Medieval Festival at the gate or online.

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