The Loxwood Joust in West Sussex is billed as a Festival of Mediaeval Mayhem, but I know from my visit last Sunday that it is an extremely well-organised celebration of the 1450s with jousts and jesters, battle re-enactments and contemporary music (well, contemporary 500 years ago) filling the air. And it is all happening again next weekend on August 12 and 13. It’s a hugely entertaining event that caters for every age range and taste.
There is a lot of fun in a horrible-history-way with witches boiling grusome potions and torturers encouraging the crowd to guess which joint of the rack victim will crack first. (The victim is very clearly a not-very-lifelike manikin so the grusome factor is kept at a safe level for young children.)
I knew we were in for something special when I got out of the car (free car parking by the way). The air was fragrant with the smell of wood fires (enhanced by herbs and essential oils, I’m guessing ) and it is a detail that underlines the professionalism of the organisors.
This is their sixth joust and it shows.
The setting is perfect: a string of woodland clearings create a village of apothecaries, wood carvers, blacksmiths, cooks, wandering players and bird of prey tamers. The Tavern sells mead and children have their very own kingdom with a resident jester, non-contact sword fighting classes, donkey rides, puppets, circus school, bouncy castle – never more appropriate – and face and wound painting.
Twice a day comes action and drama in the form of colourful jousts fought by good knights and devious bad knights who demand cheers and boos from the crowd.
For me though the battle was the highlight. True, it probably wasn’t historically accurate in every detail. I don’t think there’s evidence that firearms were used as early as 1450 in Britain, but we are only talking a difference of 10 to 15 years and a little theatrical licence is excused by the thunder, smoke and confusion caused.
And there were real battles fought in this green and pleasant county 500 years ago between the Duke of Buckingham – on behalf of a king that many thought was mad or a fool – and working class rebels led by Jack Cade.
And battles end where battles always do…
It was an extraordinary day fueled with entertainment and good food (thankfully not too authetically mediaeval) under a big Sussex sky. I loved every minute of it.
How to get there
By heavily-armoured stallion or car On B2133 between Loxwood and Wisborough Green. Billingshurst, West Sussex RH14 0AL, UK (About an hour from London and 40 minutes from Brighton)
By Train and Shuttle Bus The nearest rail station is Billingshurst, West Sussex. There will be a shuttle bus from Billingshurst station to Loxwood Meadow. Click here to download the coach timetable.
Ticket Price (if you’re not paying in groats)
Advance tickets are valid for either 12th August 2017 or 13th August 2017.
Child (4 – 14) £6
Buy them HERE
On the gate
Under 4’s go free
For moe information (and much better pictures) go to the Loxwood Joust website
My family and I were the guests of Legend Presents