If, by now, you DON’T know that I do English Civil War re-enactment then … well … let’s never talk again, yeah? Well, as well as being a member of The Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote, I’m also a member of The Red Regiment. This is formed of hand-picked members of the Sealed Knot, who fight exclusively at events abroad. And what events! So far we’ve only fought in the Low Countries, depicting the 30 Years War (which happened just before the English Civil War, meaning our existing uniforms and equipment are perfectly in keeping).
The only event I’ve attended has been Slag om Grolle (the Siege of Grolle) which takes place in a town called Groenlo, near the Dutch border with Germany. This was my third time at the event, which happens every two years. The town is amazing – surrounded by moats in the shape of the original 17th Century ‘star’ formation fortifications, the place is normally an affluent though sleepy part of the Netherlands. When we arrive, with around 1,000 other re-enactors, the whole place comes alive. The population all get behind the event: wearing period clothing, dressing the streets with displays, making us all feel very welcome, and preparing the most perfect battlefield I’ve ever fought on.
We always play mercenaries fighting for the Imperial Spanish, who occupied the town against the Dutch besiegers. The fighting is much more intense and free-flowing than it is at events in Britain, with the unfortunate loss of two of my teeth this year testament to just what can happen if you’re not careful. However, it’s SO much fun. This year we were camped on some of the original fortifications thrown up by the Spanish, which was an absolute privilege.
And the beer…. Well, let’s put it this way – until recently, the town was the home of the Grolsch brewery. Bok, the sweet dark ale they brew, is just simply delicious and we probably get close to drinking the town dry. And that’s one of the main attractions of Slag om Grolle – the socialising. We drink, we sing, we party. I could literally go on about this event for pages and pages, it’s so enjoyable. Instead, I’ll leave you with some images and videos from another wonderful weekend….