During the English Civil War, the life of a civilian varied dramatically depending on many factors, such as: status, religion, occupation, gender and age. Families were torn apart where different members followed their beliefs and took sides. Great financial strain was borne by the families as the soldiers went off to fight, leaving behind their livelihoods, trades, and homes.
Therefore by being a member of the regiment there is more than just the military side in which to participate, as many of our events consist of a recreation of the civilian side of life based around a military garrison or camp. These are referred to as “Living History” displays. During the Living History we aim to portray as many elements of everyday life as we can, from the clothes, food, music and games of the period through to the trades, skills and social etiquette of the 17th Century.
Here are a few examples of some of the civilian roles that we currently show at our Living History displays.
The Camp Kitchen is one of the main focal points of our living histories, and normally a hub of activity, which creates a lot of interest for our visitors.
Here we demonstrate how food would have been prepared and cooked using open fires, cauldrons, period equipment and recipes. This is an excellent area for new members, as there are lots of simple tasks you can join in. We even get the children dressed up and involved, by making crumbs, peeling eggs and making butter etc: they love it, and are an integral part of civilian life.
You also get to sample all we make, as dinner is part of the display, using authentic bowls etc, which again you can borrow from the regiment when you start.
For centuries England traded in wool and had developed a large cottage industry, where people worked from their homes working the wool by carding, dying and spinning it, through to the actual weaving of the thread into clothes and other products.
As wool working was one of the main industries of the period, our own weaver has developed this role within our Living History to demonstrate the techniques involved and even makes authentic replica braids for the regiment.
This is an excellent example of what a member of the regiment can do, as our cheese maker took it upon themselves to research and develop this new role for our Living History. This again was a skill that all housewives would have and they would have made cheese regularly. The public can see how the different cheeses would have been made.
Trades men – Wood worker, Leather worker, Armourer etc.
Many tradesmen would have joined the army, or at least followed the army camps to earn their livings, as there was always a need for things to be made or mended. So we strive to re-create these activities by having our own demonstrations based around the military camp.
Members of the regiment particularly like these roles, as they can be incorporated with being a solider, as historically most would have served an apprenticeship before they were called to arms. Therefore, before the battle they can be seen, working at the lathe or forge, making or mending armour and bringing a sense of reality to the Living History.
Yes, everyday duties would still have continued within the camp and this would involve the cleaning of undergarments and bedding. Therefore, we have our own Laundress who will happily discuss her day-to-day duties, as she paddles the washing. She may even ask you to assist her so she can rest her feet.
Please do not think that you need to know all the facts before you join us, all we ask is that you come along and experience it yourself. We promise that you will be looked after and we have spare period clothes and equipment you can borrow, when you start. You will soon start to pick up details from others, and will soon develop your own knowledge.
You may then wish to develop a role further by undertaking your own research and becoming the Regiment’s expert in that area, as the above are a few and definitely not an exhaustive list of the roles available within the dimensions of an English Civil War, Living History.