With English Heritage at Kelmarsh Hall

Kelmarsh was one of those events that managed to be great fun despite unbelievably horrible weather for the whole weekend. Anyone who managed to go, has fond memories of Kirby Hall, and Kelmarsh has been billed as the new Kirby by organizers, English Heritage. It’s not quite up to those standards, but I certainly found it a nice change to be back at a multi-period event where there was a great range of other period re-enactors to socialize with in the beer tent.

We were in the perfect position to look at other re-enactors, with a great (but windy) view over the whole site. The ‘erection’ crew arrived early to pitch all the tents and position the equipment. Not an easy job, because this was a large-scale display very similar to the St James park set up.

We had a great turn-out from Garrison members, and crewed both searchlights, the Bofors, 25pdr, command post and some vehicles. John and Jane did a top job cooking up hot meals from ww2 recipes. And in the wind and rain nothing was more welcome than the fantastic stew they dished out with cheesy mash.

The beer tent was a laugh. By the time I arrived on Friday night Rachel already had a Roman fan club, James already had a female admirer, and I’d managed to meet at least 6 non-Garrison mates I didn’t know would be there. The booze helped me to sleep through very noisy weather on Friday night.

On Saturday night we had planned to do a full-scale searchlight demo. This was drawn abruptly to a halt by a bloody annoying trader who claimed we were keeping him up (at 9.30!!). However, we managed a pretty impressive display before we were shut down. The two searchlights were clearly visible in the misty atmosphere, and we experimented with tracking objects by setting off a bunch of helium balloons with glow-sticks attached (thanks Keith and Gary for nicking those from EH!!).

On Sunday I stood at my position on the seat at the side of Sparkle, and it was so wet and windy I could have been up the crow’s nest of a ship at sea! Everyone who had one donned a groundsheet/rain-cape, and I for one was glad to be doing ww2, with access to suitable clothing. Our Roman friends did NOT look happy!

Overall this was an event that went well, and I know the organizers saw the potential of our display. Hopefully we will be back at Kelmarsh next year, bigger and better, with a proper night-time searchlight display.