WOW ... the Glynde Epic at Glynde Place near Lewes promised a cast of thousands for the Bank Holiday weekend staging of the Sealed Knot’s biggest English Civil War battle re-enactment of the year and they certainly delivered. In fact the participants vastly outnumbered the crowd!
On each day Saturday, Sunday and Monday, more than 3,000 members of this charity dedicated to preserving England’s 17th century history and way of life donned their period costumes - totally authentic in detail - and picked up their pikes, swords and muskets to join battle on the verdant green grass slopes before Glynde Place’s magnificent Elizabethan manor house.
Cannons roared, cavalry charged and musket volleys rang out as the massed armies of Parliament and the supporters of King Charles I clashed in mortal combat. Even the torrential rain on Saturday couldn’t dampen the spirits of these ardent weekend warriors.
As Dave “Tosh” Thomas, Commanding Officer of Sir Marmaduke Rawdon’s Regiment of Foote, the Sealed Knot’s host regiment for the Glynde Epic put it: “Our folk just loved this site. Glynde Place is probably the best venue we’ve ever discovered for a Sealed Knot battlefield. Spectators have a wonderful view and the echoes of musket and cannon fire from the Downs helped create a fantastic atmosphere.”
Tosh added, “We participants usually outnumber the crowd simply because there are so many of us. But we plan to muster again at Glynde if not next year then certainly the year after when hopefully many more people will come along to experience our unique portrayal of living history.”
Parliament’s forces under the direction of Colonel Harbert Morley, MP for Lewes and real-life commander of the local Sussex militia in 1642, won the battle on all three days. Royalist Tosh commented: “We really had no choice but to concede the fight to Morley. After all, he actually lived in Glynde Place during the Civil War so we were battling in front of his home plus the spectators included his descendant, Lord Hampden, and his young family.
“To change history and allow we King’s men to win would have been one of those ‘Back to the Future’ scenarios that we really couldn’t countenance. But we did ensure it was a close run thing.”
The Glynde Epic also included an exciting skirmish between scores of Napoleon’s soldiers and cavalry and the Redcoats of Wellington’s army. Adding a surreal element were Rolling Thunder, a Sussex re-enactment group who re-create the Vietnam war experience. They turned the undergrowth of a Glynde Place copse into a Viet Cong guerrilla ambush site in an incredibly realistic piece of war theatre.