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Posted on May 4, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

The Battle For Basing House – An English Civil War Re-Enactment

Armchair General

THE CAMP

Once we were through the gates of the grounds, a sizeable camp greeted us, with many members of the Sealed Knot dressed in period garb and undertaking routine tasks of the day. Here’s a shot of the camp from a distance, you can see the old embankments of the Old House behind the tents. All things considered, the weather was perfect and plenty of people arrived to watch the events of the day.

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The interior of the tents were remarkably luxurious for the times, as can be seen below.

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Practical demonstrations of the trades of the era were there to be seen, and the members present were only too keen to answer questions about what they were doing and how 17th Century Englishmen carried out their work.

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Here’s the cobbler making boots for the troops. And no he wasn’t just posing for show – he was actually making them as we watched.

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Many tents had fires burning with food on the boil.

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This dashing gentleman is dressed as an Artillery Officer, he carries a 20-gauge dragoon gun, which was surprisingly light in my view, and a rapier-type sword weighing approximately two kilograms which was primarily used for stabbing rather than hacking at ones enemies. Such swords would be razor-sharp but have quite slender blades to tie in with their intended role. Other types of swords more suited to slashing at the enemy would have broader blades.

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Here I am holding an old Matchlock gun. This was a smooth-bored weapon which was fired with a piece of burning match to ignite the powder. It was eventually superseded by the Doglock and later the Flintlock designs, however this particular type of weapon was used by both sides during the English Civil War. Those wooden canisters around the man stood next to me contain powder charges, enough for one shot each. These weapons fired pure lead shot. Sometimes the lead would have the nasty tendency to melt on impact causing severe internal injuries, although, if the recipient was lucky, the melted lead would also cauterise the wound as it dribbled around inside their body.

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This is a field gun – essentially a larger version of the musket, and mounted on the ground. During the battle this was fired in demonstration and it truly packs a punch. Despite only having 2 pounds of Gunpowder in it for the event (the weapon is usually filled with 6 pounds), when it was fired the ground positively shook.

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Here’s a slightly larger weapon, a piece of small field artillery. This one goes by the name of "Katy Bee". The larger piece in the background is a permanent exhibit at Basing House and is covered in my previous article from this site.

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Whilst we were wandering around, these two Catholic Priests decided to come up and declare us heretics. Fortunately they soon walked off to denounce some other visitors and we were not put to the sword, which was just as well as that would have put a bit of a crimp on the day.

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And for those who just can’t help but shop, there was a large array of (modern) war-related merchandise on display.

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