The Sights, Sounds and Smells of England’s Living History | TravelResearchOnline

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The Sights, Sounds and Smells of England’s Living History

Most of my Windows on Britain articles concentrate on ideas that will appeal to adults flying or cruising in-and-out of the UK; but today, I’m going to highlight some of England’s countryside attractions which dramatically bring history to life during the summer months. Weekends are when many of these imagination-stretching re-enactments take place and, as that’s when the world descends on London, they offer a very good reason for escaping from our people and traffic-filled capital city.

If your client’s holiday starts on Saturday or Sunday, break the habit of a lifetime by heading straight into the English countryside and start the vacation with one of our jaw-dropping historic events. Then on Monday, with jetlag parked and a morning visit to a castle under their belt, head for London where, during the early afternoon, their rooms will be ready. Doesn’t that get things off to a better start?

England offers a VERY long menu of experiential tour opportunities and here are just a few that have caught my eye.

Alice’s Day

Alice’s Day (Saturday 7th July) is an annual celebration of Lewis Carroll’s celebrated book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass, which marked a turning point in children’s literature. This one-day event offers a full day of events inspired by the classic story, including tea-parties, croquet, storytelling and workshops. Visitors are encouraged to take part and dress like Alice. Extend your Oxford stay and follow in the footsteps of other much-loved English novelists like C S Lewis, J R R Tolkien and Kenneth Graham. Discover the world of His Dark Materials and explore the setting of the new The Book of Dust series with a walk around Philip Pullman’s Oxford.

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Tudor Sights, Sounds and Smells

Examples of Living History Experiences are plentiful in Shakespeare’s England, aka Stratford, in England where The Shakespeare Houses give you a very close encounter with Elizabethan England especially at Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother. Today you can experience all the sights, sounds and smells just as it would have been when the Bard was a boy. Watch the residents go about their daily routine, see rare-breed animals and explore nature trails. There are also daily falconry displays and archery at weekends and during the school holidays.

Elizabethan Weekend at Kenilworth Castle

From medieval fortress to Elizabethan palace, Kenilworth Castle has been at the centre of England’s affairs for much of its 900-year history. On 13th and 14th July, you can party like it’s 1575 as you join others to celebrate the ultimate Elizabethan celebration with music, falconry displays and a feast of entertainment fit for the Virgin Queen. Add a visit to nearby Warwick Castle where their jaw-dropping daily displays include the Bowman’s Archery Show, the Knight’s School, and the Falconer’s Quest, the UK’s biggest Birds of Prey flying display.

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Medieval Jousting

The Knights of Royal England begin this year’s Summer Jousting Tournaments on 13th-14th July and then on most weekend until the end of August. Watch them battling it out in the saddle and on foot in one-to-one combat in exhilarating displays of action, stunts, falls and fights in front of King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn in their Royal Box. The world’s longest jousting tournament makes a triumphant return to Arundel Castle in West Sussex on 23-28 July. As the season’s highlight, it promises nothing less than a true clash of the titans with plenty of fierce rivalries along the way. Archery, falconry displays, hand to hand combat, it’s got the lot. Use the link to see other medieval events in July-October.

The Bosworth Medieval Fair

Taking place on 17th and 18th August, relive the dramatic events of the Battle of Bosworth and see how King Richard III lost his crown, and the Tudor dynasty was born. As well as the battle re-enactments, there are large living history encampments to explore, jousting, archery, cannon fire demonstrations, guided tours, author talks, a medieval craft market, and hands-on games and competitions for children. New events and entertainment for this year include period falconry displays – both flying and static – medieval cooking demonstrations and food tasting, a roving Jester, the King’s Executioner, a medieval puppet show and a mounted skill at arms display which puts the horses and armoured riders through their paces.

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Battle of Bosworth. Scenes from the battle.

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Life Below Stairs

Audley End, just north of London is one of the best places in England to discover how a thriving country house worked. On most July and August weekends, you can meet the servants as they bring the house back to its Victorian heyday. Immerse yourself in the delicious smells of the kitchen and come face to face with the cook, Mrs. Crocombe, as she busily prepares a traditional family meal and Mrs Warwick, the housekeeper, and other staff members as they organise the house for the day. Outside, you can chat to the grooms as they groom the horses.

The Battle of Hastings

In the year 1066, a history-changing battle took place on England’s south coast between the Anglo-Saxon King Harold and the future King of England, William the Conqueror. Every October, you can experience the clash of sword on shield and feel the thunder of galloping hooves as over 600 warriors clash in an epic re-enactment. You can speak to Norman and Saxon soldiers in their encampments by the famous battlefield and learn about life in an 11th century army. Meet falconers and admire majestic birds of prey, try your hand at archery and watch superb displays of cavalry horsemanship.

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Kynren, An Epic Tale of England

This is the UK’s ‘must see’ spectacular live action outdoor theatre show. Taking place every Saturday evening from 29th June -14th September near the cathedral city of Durham, it’s presented on a seven-and-a-half-acre stage as a 1,000-srong cast and crew immerse you in the telling of a 2,000-year tale of the history of England. Kynren brings to ground-shaking life the story of invasions, royal splendour, wars, heroic sacrifice, daily life and seismic change. Take your seat with 8,000 others; enjoy a perfect view and be swept along by a thrilling, family-friendly journey. Two thousand years in the making, the dazzling pyrotechnics, beautiful choreography, amazing stunts and hard-to-believe horsemanship combine with an inspired, original soundtrack to leave audiences and critics enraptured and awestruck.

Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at www.customgb.co.uk or email him at ptickner@customgb.co.uk.

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