Facing reduced membership numbers and a dwindling public awareness, The Sealed Knot, the UK’s largest historic battle re-enactment society, has decided to break with over 40 years of its tradition and stage re-enactments of conflicts other than the battles of the English Civil War (1642-1651).
Founded in 1968 by military historian Brigadier Peter Young, the Sealed Knot has been primarily concerned with staging Civil War battles in 17th century costume at or near their original locations, but that narrow focus is now thought to be at the root of the current problems.
“We’ve been fighting the Civil War much longer than Cromwell ever did,” observed long-term member John Rawton, “and we’ve pretty much done it to death – it’s time we moved on. Edgehill and Naseby don’t mean much to the younger generation. We need to work harder to reconnect with people if we are to survive as a viable re-enactment association.”
With that in mind, the group announced in the latest edition of its official journal, Orders of the Daye, that from this summer forth, the society would be holding “musters” (gatherings) at Wetherspoon pubs across England to re-enact very recent conflicts - sometimes only days old.
“As an historical society, any event in the past is essentially within our remit. However recent these conflicts may be, we feel it is our job to re-enact them in authentic costume so that the local people can get a feel for their immediate history,” said Rawton, going on to point out that, “even though these fights only occurred within the past week or so, it is often no less a challenge to piece together the ebb and flow of battle than it is to map out the cavalry movements at the Battle of Marston Moor.
“Like that time at The Cap in Hand last Saturday. Most researchers originally believed that Dave had been going round telling all his mates he’d done Kelly up the wrong-un, and that’s why Kelly’s brother, Chris had come in and fronted him. Recent evidence, though, suggests that Dave had been winding Chris up about something else that nobody seems to want to talk about but didn’t have nothing to do with Kelly and that she hadn’t even done nothing especially not with Dave anyway because he's a right tosser.
After that it all turned agro with Chris screaming he was going to fuck Dave up, then Dave – grabbing a chair pinned Chris against the wall, leading to Chris's mates getting Dave in a headlock and taking him into the outside bit with the picnic tables. Somehow Dave got free and ran back in to have another go at Chris, this time joined by big gay Rob, little Rob and Swifty. The police arrived soon after that. How the window got broken is still disputed among scholars, though.
“As you can see, this is a breath of fresh air for the military historian, and by re-enacting the fight, we can help locals gain insight into their recent history and perhaps understand themselves better.
“The added bonus,” commented Rawton, “is that our very presence often seems to lead to violence directed at us, giving the society the chance to later re-enact fights we actually took part in.”