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King Harold Day Festival 950th Anniversary Year - Sat 8th October 2016

Author: Tricia Gurnett, King Harold Day Festival Published: 7th October 2016 19:26
King Harold Memorial stone with flowers
Celebrate the Life, Legend & Legacy of England's Last Anglo-Saxon King 

Saturday sees this year’s King Harold Day medieval festival in the beautiful Abbey Gardens in Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1XQ.  Don't miss as there will be old favourites and lots of new attractions too.

This year is very special for us as it is the 950th Anniversary of the Year of King Harold II, of his Coronation, the three great battles of 1066, and Harold’s death on the battlefield.

Of course, we are commemorating Harold Godwinsson, King Harold II, who was Lord of the Manor of Waltham when he was Earl of Essex and East Anglia, owned much land and property in the area, and whose family home with his handfast wife, Edith Swan-Neck, was at Nazeing. Harold founded the Minster Church which eventually became the Great Abbey, and legend has it that he came to pray at the Miraculous Cross of Waltham before the Battle of Hastings, and that his body was brought back here after his death.

We shall have our usual Costumed Procession through the Town Centre, starting from outside the Museum/Library in Sun Street at 12 noon, and ending at the King Harold Memorial Stone in the Abbey Churchyard where our special guests will place flowers.

The Feudals medieval re-enactors

This year our re-enactors are The Feudals, and they will be setting up their medieval camp where you can see cooking, weaving, arrow making in the medieval way, and can get close to their weapons and armour. They specialize in Archery, and their bowmen will be taking every opportunity to get into the Arena and shoot at their targets.

Trouvère are our medieval musicians and they and their singer will be giving us early Saxon and Norman music.

Coda Falconry will be visiting us again with their birds of prey on show all day, and flying from the Arena once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Chingford Morris Men dancing with sticks

Chingford Morris Men will be performing their Mummers’ Play and morris dancing.

New to us are Hartbeeps who will be encouraging children, (and perhaps parents too!) to take part in a magical musical adventure.

And there will be the ever popular Have-a-Go Archery with Epping Archers.

There will be animals to get close to, and bees in an observation hive. A more modern visitor will be the lovely Copped Hall vintage Rolls Royce.

There will be Craft Stalls around the gardens and in the Abbey Church Centre, and exhibitions and hands on things for children to do. And they can try out our Stocks and find out what it would have felt like to be sentenced to the stocks for being naughty!

If you’re hungry there will be a Hog Roast, and the local Dominion Brewery will have 11th Century-type ales.

The English Companions will be speaking Anglo Saxon (or Old English) at their tent. Can you understand them? Plus there is a chance to put a stitch or two in The Waltham Abbey Tapestry at the Tourist Information Centre tent.

There’s a Recital of Music for King Harold Day in the Abbey Church at 12.30pm.

Waltham Abbey’s primary schools have been invited to submit work on a King Harold theme for the Schools’ Art Exhibition which will be on display at the Museum in Sun Street, a change of venue this year.

Schedule of Events

10.30am - The Festival begins. Visit the Craft Fair and other Attractions around the Gardens, including in the Abbey Church Centre.

Visit the living history village throughout the day.

THE FEUDALS are our medieval re-enactors and their bowmen will be engaging in Archery whenever they can get into the Arena!

10.45am - AT THEIR TENT - Trouvère will play their lovely medieval music.

11.15am - ARENA - Coda Falconry will fly their birds. Watch them return to the falconer’s hand

11.45am - AT THEIR MINI ARENA - Hartbeeps - A magical, musical adventure for your little ones, and the big people will enjoy it too.


TO THE KING HAROLD MEMORIAL STONE BEHIND THE ABBEY CHURCH by the Medieval performers and traders, accompanied by musicians. Flower placing Ceremony at the Memorial Stone.

12.30pm - THE ABBEY CHURCH - Recital - Music for King Harold Day (Fumi Otsuki, violin with Alessandro Viale, piano featuring Dvoƙák’s Sonatina for violin and piano, and works by Fauré, MacMillan and Elgar)

1.00pm - Near the Abbey Church Centre - Chingford Morris Men will dance/perform The Mummers’ play.

1.30pm - AT THEIR TENT - Trouvère will play their lovely medieval music.

2.00pm - Near the Abbey Church Centre - Chingford Morris Men will dance/perform the Mummers’ play.

2.30pm - AT THEIR MINI ARENA - Hartbeeps - A magical, musical adventure for your little ones, and the big people will enjoy it too.

3.00pm - ARENA - Coda Falconry’s birds will fly once more.

3.30pm - AT THEIR TENT - Trouvère will play their lovely medieval music.

4.00pm - King Harold Day closes, but we look forward to seeing you again next year on Sat 7 October.

[Programme Subject to Change due to weather or other circumstances beyond our control.]

King Harold Day is part of the King Harold 950 Festival taking place from September to December 2016, and is Heritage Lottery Fund supported.

King Harold Day will be held in the Abbey Gardens, (by kind permission of the Church authorities and Lee Valley Regional Park), from 10.30am to 4.00pm on Saturday 8th October 2016.

For more information please see King Harold Day website 

Photograph above of The Feudals encampment by kind permission of King Harold Day Committee and The Feudals.  Photograph of King Harold Memorial Stone and Chingford Morris Men dancing from a previous year's event by AboutMyArea/EN9 Site Editor Kate Towerzey. 

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