Festival of History 4.6.2017

Hello on the 4th of June I attended the Festival of History at Royal Holloway University of London in Egham.
This was a free event
It consisted of a mixture of
1) Historical reenactors - English Civil War, Redcoats and Rebels, Medieval Knights and their retinues and a Suffragette demonstrating Self defence against ruffians.
2) Short plays put on by the Time Will Tell Theatre Company – ‘The Great Charter?’, ‘The Putney Debates’, ‘Deeds not Words’ and ‘Breaking the Chains’.
3) Talks on various historical subjects – ‘The Bronze age in Runnymede’, ‘Populism and Parliament’, ‘King Killers in America, and the Weaker Sex? Suffragette Violence’.
4) Music- Historical Chamber Music classical pieces from Handel to Rachmaninov

The reenactors had encampments where you could meet and talk to them. They also put on displays in the arena. The AWI reenactors demonstrated loading and firing their muskets and dealt with rebel hecklers in the crowd including Thomas Paine reciting passages from Rights of Man.
The ECW reenactors came from a number of different Regiments but on the day they all represented a Parliament Regiment and demonstrated Pike drill, loading and firing and the use of drums to issue commands.
The medieval Knights argued over whether to support King John or not and had a punch up to decide the issue.
Personally, I found the Suffragette reenactors the most interesting and enthusiastic. The lady Suffragette (Sue Kirk a retired Army Captain) demonstrated self-defence techniques with Indian clubs, Canes and Umbrellas combined with Jujutsu. I lifted one of the Indian clubs and found it was heavier than the Truncheons used by the Police. Apparently one of the Suffragettes Edith Garrud a towering 4ft 11 inches was one of the first professional martial arts instructors in the Western World and in secret trained Emily Pankhurst’s bodyguard unit of 30 Suffragettes in self-defence techniques using Indian Clubs and Jujutsu. The body guard went on to fight a number of well publicised hand to hand combats with Police officers and male ruffians. There is a famous Punch Cartoon of a lone Suffragette surrounded by Police lying on the ground or thrown up on to railings after trying to arrest her. At the time Police had to be at least 5ft 10 inches tall.
I attended The Great Charter Play in the Chapel which was about the life of King John and the Magna Carta it was interesting and enjoyable and part way through the play it became interactive in that the Audience took on the role of King John and was presented with several problems he faced and had to vote on how to respond.
I saw part of the short open air play ‘Breaking the Chains’ about the campaign to abolish the Transatlantic slave trade through the stories of three different characters in Regency England.
I listened to the talk on ‘The Weaker Sex? Suffragette Violence’ by Dr Fern Riddell an Historian and consultant to the TV drama ‘Ripper Street’. This talk was in the main about the Suffragette arson and bombing campaign which resulted in the destruction of several public and private buildings up and down the country and how the Suffragettes used false identities and decoys to avoid capture. Fern advised that the Suffragette bomb making techniques became more sophisticated as time went by and if the campaign had not been ended by the outbreak of World War One it would have only been a matter of time before someone was killed. A number of Postmen were injured by another tactic the Suffragettes used making acid and arson attacks on Post boxes and sorting offices to disrupt postal communication. The Postmen the Suffragettes injured were working men who did not have the vote as they were not householders.
At the outbreak of World War One the Suffragettes ended their campaign in order to support the men in their war effort.
In the Marquee was a demonstration of a radical printing press and Medieval Calligraphy and on display the beautiful Magna Carta Quilts some depicting the story of King John and the Magna Carta others celebrate Champions of Liberty since 1215
I would have liked to attend the Talk on King Killers in America about the men who signed King Charles I’s death warrant and who were pursued across the Atlantic but there was not enough time to see everything.
I attach some photos of the reenactors notice the Baron and his retinue at Runnymede returning disappointed from the Ice-cream Van after finding out King John had the last Choc Ice