EVER wondered what it would be like to live in medieval times? To be surrounded by executioners, jesters and all manner of 15th-century characters, all vying for your attention?
If this tickles your fancy then let me introduce you to the Loxwood Joust, a huge medieval extravaganza in the heart of the West Sussex countryside that Maurice Bacon, the Joust’s founder, claims is one of a kind.
“Our event is the only one that will truly reflect medieval times,” explains Maurice. “You will be able to walk around the giant event and genuinely feel you have been placed back in the 15th century.”
A fact he insists is down to the location just as much as the event itself. “After flooding concerns ended our event at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, we spent the next three years looking for a suitable location to move the medieval extravaganza to.”
Luckily for Maurice, they happened upon the Loxwood Valley, a beautifully-secluded area of West Sussex countryside about four miles from Billingshurst. It has turned into the most perfect of locations.
“When you walk into the site everything becomes apparent,” he explains. “We have no ice cream kiosks, burger vans or anything that could give away the fact you are not in the 15th century,” he adds.
Care was even taken to ensure the location was unobstructed by anything modern. “You can see no buildings, electricity pylons or farms from the event site itself.”
All of this means that when it comes down to the event, you can fully immerse yourself into the feel of 1500s, safe in the knowledge that when you swing your head around you will see nothing but jesters, lepers and armoured horses.
According to Maurice, the event is a full day out for the family with an abundance of distractions to keep everyone fully entertained, even offering a learning zone to look at the 15th century in much more depth.
“Our motto is that is has to be educational, but also fun,” insists Maurice. “We offer a variety of different speakers such as a medieval housewife and a 15th century sayings expert.”
Who would have thought that sayings we take for granted nowadays, such as ‘keeping something under your hat’, ‘full tilt’ or ‘bouncer’, would be perfect examples of sayings that originated all the way back in the 1400s.
For those with more of a gruesome, inquisitive mind, there is also a look into medieval crime and punishment, something Maurice suggests isn’t for the faint-hearted.
With so much going on around the site, you would be forgiven for missing some of the other activities.
Maurice explains: “We have a number of events taking place throughout the day, from the Medieval Babes, a classical crossover band playing traditional instruments, to dragon stories being told in the medieval theatre”.
According to Maurice, the event even has belly-dancers which, despite their exotic nature, were apparently brought over in high numbers by the crusaders, giving the event a real eclectic feel.
For those worried the catering will be mostly made up of medieval delicacies such as rabbit pie or carp stew, fear not. For Loxwood Joust, despite its moniker as a truly-authentic event, still wants to keep you deliriously food-happy, serving ice cream (sold out of medieval tents) and pizzas cooked in an authentic wood-fired oven.
The event would not be complete though without traditional slow-roasting meat, as Maurice explains. “Our culinary centrepiece is a hog roast comprising of wild boar.” A truly mouthwatering proposition.
With the ‘Lockswood Arms’ providing the mead, an authentic medieval drink made from a mixture of water and honey, and traditionally-brewed local ales, there is also something to keep the adults refreshed.
With Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice providing entertainment in the form of ‘Pelt the Peasant’ in addition to full battle re-enactments comprising of full body armour, uniforms and weaponry, your senses are going to be in for a shock.
Which is something Maurice attests to. “It will take you about four hours to see all the shows and even longer to do some shopping and eat all the amazing food on offer, it is a full day out”.
“There is a huge market for this kind of thing in the UK, people want escapism and our event can provide this, on a huge scale.”
To find out more about this event visit www.loxwoodjoust.co.uk for more information.