Medieval musicians from across the country will be making their way to St John’s Church in Chester on Saturday June 16 for the recreation of the Minstrels’ Court, an annual gathering of Cheshire’s entertainers collecting their licence to perform.
The ceremony originally took place from the year 1204, continuing each midsummer until 1756, then disappeared until its revival five years ago.
This year’s event will feature musicians playing a wide range of medieval instruments, from harps and hurdy gurdy, to shawms and English bagpipes.
Visitors will be able to try some of these for themselves and living history displays will feature knights in armour, archers, weavers and relic peddlers.
In addition to the music performances there will also be storytelling, mummers plays, renaissance dance workshops and children’s activities.
The Minstrels’ Court began when Earl Ranulf of Chester was besieged at Rhuddlan Castle in North Wales, and sent word to Chester for more soldiers.
The message arrived during the midsummer fair and the soldiers were worse for wear in the taverns, so the Constable of the Castle instead rounded up musicians, players, ‘bearwards’ and ‘divers lewd persons’ and sent them off instead.
They made such a noise as they approached Rhuddlan that the Welsh fled and the siege was lifted.
In return Earl Ranulf gave his protection that they may perform in Chester without fear of arrest on condition that they attended the Minstrels’ Court at St John’s each year.
On hearing of the event, local resident and Conservative Party member Aden Lucas was pleased that our local councillors were continuing to support and develop Chester’s rich historic traditions.
“Chester is more than a Roman city, our heritage spans over a 1000 years and we have a great medieval tradition as well. Its great to see medieval events once again taking their place alongside roman events in our cultural calendar” said Aden.
The Minstrels’ Court runs from 10.30am – 5pm in St John’s Church, next to the amphitheatre. Admission is free.
Following the day’s event there will also be a special evening concert taking place in the same atmospheric setting.
Entitled ‘Medieval Music Makers’ it promises the audience a chance to discover medieval music, along with modern interpretations of historic tunes with a fantastic range of instruments and musicians including The Time Bandits, de Mowbray’s Musicke, Trouvere, Halfe Pannikin and Blast from the Past.
The evening concert starts at 7.30pm on Saturday 16 June and tickets are £5 at the door. Places can be reserved in advance by calling 01606 271640 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about the event contact Sue Hughes, telephone 01244 972110, e-mail email@example.com or Tom Hughes, telephone 01606 271640 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org