Cape Charles Hosts An Elizabethan Faire

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Lord Robert Dudley, High Chancellor of England, and his Court

The citizens of  the Eastern Shore of Virginia woke up the week-end of June 4-5, 2011  with not only the tall masts of Kalmar Nyckel dominating the skyline of  the Cape Charles harbor but also with the tents of an authentic Elizabethan Faire set up in the Town’s  beautiful and spacious Central Park.  What a perfect setting for a historic reenactment camp right out of the sixteenth century!  To celebrate  and compliment  the visit of  Delaware’s official tall ship ambassador, Kalmar Nyckel, the historic coastal Town of Cape Charles hosted the visit of   “Historic Interpretations”  from Raleigh, North Carolina. They are a group of actors, historians, craftsmen, and educators who demonstrate in incredible detail what life was like 500 years ago in an Elizabethan village.





Sir Brandon being knighted by the Lord High Chancellor of England

The day dawned bright and sunny with tangy, refreshing breezes blowing off the Chesapeake Bay.  And as the day progressed, visitors from far and near made their way to  the  Faire and quickly found themselves involved in playing games, dancing, trying on armour, hefting weapons, and admiring the great detail of reproduction of the time period of 1585, or thereabouts, the height of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England. I brought to the Faire my grown children and grandsons. When I visited the tent of Lord Robert Dudley, the High Chancellor of England, he was so impressed with my son and grandsons that he knighted them all! Now, I have to call them Sir John, Sir Brandon, Sir Charlie, and Sir Ryan, and do their bidding whenever it pleases them – big mistake!

My “Sir” Knights then lead me by the collar around the Park’s field to another tent that sheltered the Armoury. There, to my huge surprise, were racks of weapons from the 16th century – long bows and arrows, 10′ long pikes, and other implements you cannot imagine, all of which could do serious damage to an opponent on the battlefield or the jousting.

Sir Brandon ready for battle!

arena! Suited up for battle there stood a soldier straight out of antiquity! Helmet, breastplate, chain mail … I tapped on his chest and rapped on his head much to the detriment of my poor knuckles!  That armour sure is good stuff! My little knight needed some shining armour, so I asked the good soldier in attendance to fix him up. And with Sir Brandon being now officially knighted and all, the soldier had no choice but do his bidding.

Then on to the Tavern tent, stocked with good victuals and brew, and furnished with collapsible wooden tables and chairs from the Elizabethan period. Gathered around the tables were the prettiest Ladies- in- Waiting, beckoning me to play a game of chess or checkers.  It didn’t take long at all for Sir John, Sir Charlie, and Sir Brandon to get into the spirit of things and we all broke out in rollicking songs, timeless sea chanteys and Irish tavern tunes.  Next thing I knew, the ladies had pulled us out of the Tavern and we were dancing on the Green,  stepping lively around in a circle with our hands on our hips, twirling and swinging our partners here and there and everywhere!

Catching my breath finally, I broke free and followed my knights further around the Green for some refreshment and relaxation. What a wonderful opportunity to learn about the habits and dress and language of the Elizabethans at the time that Sir Walter Raleigh sent his ships across the Atlantic to establish the first English settlements in America, including the historic settlements on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  home to the oldest continuous court records in the US.   I heard talk that this troupe loves Cape Charles so much that next year they plan on bringing Queen Elizabeth and her whole court !   Really looking forward to that !





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