I’ve always loved a bit of jousting – it’s kind of like panto on horses, don’t you think? Goodies, baddies, violence, humour, but with hot dogs instead of icecream at the interval. Now that spring has sprung properly, we’re officially moving into tilt-and-charge season and first out of the blocks is Stonor Park near Henley, and whoa there, it’s a goodie. Here’s what to expect on your day out.
Two knights, in full medieval regalia, galloping full pelt at each other in an attempt to knock the other off their horse. Tell me your kids won’t love that? The knights also throw in a far whack of slapstick humour, encourage the audience to take sides and to boo and hiss the opponents, plus there’s all sort of japes with swords and balls and chains. Oh, and a dress-up competition, judged by the real knights themselves, so the littlies should raid the fancy dress box for their finest knight/dragon/princess/royal regalia.
Aim, steady, fire!
If that’s not enough blood and guts, they can also try archery. OK, so they won’t be actually aiming at anyone but they’ll get their Hunger Games hit (and yes, grown-ups can also have a go). An archery expert will explain how it’s done and you can pay for as many clutches of arrows as it takes to get that bull’s eye.
Watch the birdie
Between the jousting high jinx there will be falconry displays throughout both days. Expect owls, falcons, hawks and more birds of prey circling and swooping over the crowds.
If you think that sitting down to enjoy a spot of theatre between the high octane stuff will be a gentle respite, think again. Up to 50 people will be around the event in period dress from the time of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, including some of horse back and there will be no hiding at the back – expect loads of audience participation. The battle has a connection to Stonor, as Lord Camoys, head of the Stonor family, is a direct descendant of Lord Thomas de Camoys, who commanded the left wing of the English army at the Battle of Agincourt. The cannons used in the battle will also be replicated in firepower displays running alongside the other events. This is letting off steam, medieval style.
Eat like a knight
You’ll probably work up quite the hunger with all this action, but fear not, you’ll be able to channel your inner Medieval lord or lady at the event, feasting on hog roast and venison burgers made from Stonor’s own ancient fallow deer herd. Veggie knights will also be catered for with vegan tacos, pizza and food from The Chipsmyth. There will also be locally-produced Rebellion Beer on sale, alongside Mead, for those who want to really feel the part, and soft drinks, ice cream and coffee.
Wanna go? Tickets to the event on May 22 and 23 cost £15 for adults and £12.50 for kids aged 2-15. The price includes access to Stonor’s new adventure playground, Tumblestone Hollow and the Gardens, which is frankly awesome (read our review) would normally cost £6.50 each. It makes the jousting day pretty good value in our view, if you make a day of it and can get round the whole lot.