All things bright and bootiful

Author: Linda Holly

Published on: 30 December 2017

More than 430 people attended a Medieval Weekend at Bressingham Church on the 5 and 6 of August.

The event was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as a heritage activity relating to a £250,000 grant towards replacing all rainwater goods and relaying lead roofs to make the church watertight. The event proved to be a great success, attracting a diverse range of people who visited the church for the first time. Demowbrays’ Retinue, a troupe of living history interpreters, were superb. Each of the seventeen characters, ranging from the Duchess, Elizabeth de Mowbray to a humble baker, managed to bring 15th century England to life.

Demowbrays attention to detail was astounding: all the tents, costumes and artefacts such as medieval fiddles were carefully researched and authentically recreated. They stayed in character throughout – visitors could have come at daybreak to see them mustering and holding household prayers in Latin. Demowbrays historical research was meticulous. For example, they recreated Bressingham manorial court under the lordship of Sir Thomas Pilkington in the 15th century! Processing each afternoon into the church led by the visiting Duchess, Elizabeth de Mowbray, Demowbrays were truly magnificent to see. They very effectively kept a balance between entertaining and informing people about the medieval manorial court system. The court culminated with the baker found guilty of selling underweight bread and led out of the church to the stocks, to be pelted by the visitors with eggs! Please see for bright and bootiful photographs.

Visitors also enjoyed looking at the historical documents and local history display in the church. Thanks to the recent Heritage Lottery Funded bench ends research project, many admired and learned about Bressingham Church’s magnificent and rare late 15th century to mid 16th century ornately carved bench ends. Visitors further appreciated seeing the archaeological finds discovered during building repair groundworks, especially as one of the archaeologists, Simon Underdown, helped out at the event explaining the finds. Visitors were further treated to medieval music beautifully played on the organ by Adrian Kitchen.

Refreshments were served by a welcoming team of volunteers. Visitors were treated to a wide variety of home baked cakes and savoury items, plus Pimms and a delicious local ale were served. At the end of each day, Demowbrays Retinue reentered the church to drink this ale in recreation of a traditional leet ale.

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Linda Holly

St John the Baptist, Bressingham

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