Yuletide begins...

The lead up to Christmas is a busy time for us, with Tudor Yuletide workshops for schools each day now, interspersed with Victorian Christmas events at various historic places, talks on seasonal traditions for local history groups, a couple of craft fairs, lots of concerts that we're in, or watching friends play at - it's a wonderful time of year if you're into Early or traditional music.

Yesterday we went to the famous Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre with our friends, Chris and Joan from FayrePlay, but we were all just on a trip out, not getting medieval ourselves.  It was freezing cold as is traditional for a Ludlow Christmas Fayre and there were some great musicians and storytellers too.  We didn't spend much on the craft stalls though.

Today we went to the Christmas Fair at Norton Priory.  We've been along to this with our medieval displays for a number of years now, and it gets better every time.  This year we were in the museum area rather than squashing up in a crowded undercroft as before.  We had displays of medieval musical instruments, though I confess to getting a little tired of playing period Christmas tunes so made the odd venture into later eras and tunes which were not at all festive.  No one seemed to mind.

Sue had been busy for weeks stitching an enormous range of festive goodies which we also had on our stall, along with some of our medieval replicas, Cheshire folk tales books and little bagpipers which I'd made.  We did a very good trade indeed!

We also let people try making their own spice bag to prepare hipocras, a medieval mulled wine, which was a very popular activity.  There's nothing like cinnamon, ginger, nutmegs and cloves to evoke the essence of Christmas, though we also added long pepper and grains of paradise to follow an old recipe.

Alongside us was Tony Saxon with his beautiful replicas of historic bracelets and pins along with his chainmail jewellery and displays of armour and arrows.

And Norton Priory had their display of traditional skills, concentrating mainly on beekeeping in this instance.  I was very much taken by their replica Tudor beekeepers costume based on Bruegel's picture, which we've now hatched plans to recreate for a photo.

The medieval undercroft was packed with a wonderful farmers' market and lots of beautiful crafts too.  We managed to get lots of Christmas presents very quickly.  It's rare these days to find a real craft fair where people have made the goods themselves, and can fascinate you with the history and background of their craft, but you got that at Norton Priory.  The only problem perhaps was that no-one seemed to be charging anywhere near enough for their efforts.

A micro-brewery was set up at Norton about a year ago, but despite us being there several times for their events, we hadn't yet got to try their Priory Ale, but rectified that today, and very good it was too!

So, as I type this, Sue is making yet more Christmas crafts for the other events we've got coming up, having sold more than we expected today.  And I have to check on some pies and pasties which I've got in the oven now ready to lay the table for a Tudor Yuletide tomorrow...