Members of the public are always full of questions about what we do and why, from where we get our costumes from to how we choose sides. One of the most common questions is “How did you get into reenactment?”.
For every member of our regiment it’s a different story – some of us had friends who already took part, others wanted to learn more about history, while others joined because of the great social side of being part of The Sealed Knot. The Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote includes people from all backgrounds and walks of life – from bin-men to teachers, from students to managers – but what brings us together is a passion for what we do and the friendships we forge on and off the battlefield.
But what’s it like trying reenactment for the first time? How do people come to don the redcoat and take to the field? And how does being part of Manchester’s make it such a great experience?
Read on below as one of our musketeers, Gill, talks about her first time with the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment…
How did you come to join Manchester’s?
I’ve always wanted to do re-enactment since I was young but as I wasn’t massively into any particular period of history I wasn’t sure which group to join. I’d had a friend who was a member of the Sealed Knot and spoke very highly about it, especially the friendly and safe atmosphere of it, but at the time I wasn’t in any position to get involved. I’ve recently started a new job and moved to Leeds so for the first time I have the time and finances to commit to it (especially after having been a student for the last four years!). Another friend of mine, Emily, mentioned she was a member of Manchester’s and again spoke so highly about the experience that I decided now was the time to join!
What did you think when Emily first mentioned what she did at weekends?
I had already heard much about the Sealed Knot and had a vague idea in my mind to join one day. I was delighted to hear that my friend was already a member and she had great stories to share about the regiment so this was the catalyst that finally made me sign up!
What motivated you to give it a go yourself?
I wanted to give it a go because it always looks like a lot of fun when I’ve been a spectator and it’s such a unique hobby- when else would you be battling surrounded by muskets, cannons, pike and cavalry! I liked the idea of doing something that was so far removed from normal life and that you could really immerse yourself in the 17th century.
The fact that women can go onto the battlefield and have the roles that, back in the 1600s, they would never have had was what drew me to the Sealed Knot in particular. I’ve never been a typical ‘girly girl’ so standing on the sidelines watching the men have all the fun would never have sat well with me!
Tell us about your first experience of meeting the regiment.
My first experience of meeting the regiment was really lovely. I arrived to the camp site on the Saturday while the majority of the regiment had already arrived and set up camp the night before. I was immediately introduced to everyone, given a seat and a cup of tea and some other members asked me to get my tent which they set up for me! Everybody was so welcoming and friendly that I immediately felt at ease and part of the regiment and decided pretty quickly that this was the thing for me!
What was it like trying the kit on for the first time?
Trying the kit on for the first time felt very natural. I was impressed by the attention to period detail that is put into it. Considering the majority of the public will only see us on the battlefield and so won’t see the kit up close, the amount of time people devote to the detail shows there’s real passion for this hobby.
Describe your first battle…
My first battle was at the training weekend at Elvaston Castle so it wasn’t massive, but for a newby was still quite daunting. There was a lot on on the battlefield with cannon, musket and pike all doing their own thing meaning it was a little more hectic than I was expecting. But this is a good thing as with the noises (the cannons are very loud!), smells and the general spectacle; it’s really easy to immerse yourself in what it would have been like for an ordinary 17th century soldier. But I was ever in any fear of getting an injury as, after seeing all the safety procedures and training that each individual person goes through, I felt very safe in the knowledge that the chances of getting a major injury are really small.
How did it feel coming off the field?
I was hot, tired and bruised but it was so exhilarating that I couldn’t wait to get back on the field the next day!
What did you think about the social side?
The social side of musters is very relaxed and a lot of fun. Everyone is all inclusive and generous with drink and food but yet there’s no pressure from anyone on what kind of night you have- the beer tent is the social hub so there’s usually a group that goes there while there’s also usually a group who stay at camp by the fire. The fancy dress parties are a lot of fun and nothing beats a cold bottle of cider after a tiring afternoon of fighting!
What would you say to someone interested in giving it a go themselves?
I would say that if you are curious to see what it’s like then just come for one weekend. Everyone in the regiment is very friendly and everyone hails from different from all walks of life that it’s a great place to meet new people and is easy to fit in. If you realise it’s not for you then there’s no pressure to continue and I’m sure you’ll still walk away having had a fun, unique weekend away!
If it’s whetted your appetite, make sure you join up now!
And make sure you follow the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote account on Instagram for daily updates of our adventures on and off the battlefield!