The Dark Knight from the Tower of London.

We had a brilliant afternoon last Saturday at Château de Castelnaud where a Medieval Heritage Weekend was being hosted.

There were artisans who make swords and armour, demonstrations of various techniques and moves in sword fighting and the why and when you would perform the moves in medieval combat. With the highlight being James Hester and Stephen Pasker Shellenbean giving their extremely interesting talks and demonstrations of sword fighting from the 13th and 14th Century.

James and Stephen are historical experts in Medieval combat. James was curator of Tower Collections at the Tower of London no less. Both of the men gave talks and demonstrations in English and it was translated into French.

James Hester the Dark knight.
 

Waiting to start the tournament.
 

Stephen and James demonstrating how to win against a larger and stronger opponent.
 

James stated that the swords were extremely light and that every part of the sword could be used in hand to hand combat. Unlike those epic tournaments depicted in movies a typical fight would only last three or four strokes of the blade. While Stephan talked about the education of the Medieval Knight which consisted of geography, sciences, Latin, mathematics and music. For example, mathematics for judging how near the opponent is to you, their arm span, height and weight. Music for timing and movement, so that you strike at the key moment and move quickly out of the way. But first a knight was taught wresting from a young age, which helped to build muscle and agility so that they could use the skills in the practice of sword combat.

The tournament begins with a challenge from Kevin. The score was calculated by how many strokes made contact with the opponent.
 

A presentation of civil fencing in the 12th to 14th centuries by Olivier Gourdon and Franck Cinato.
 

An artisan describing his work producing amazing custom made armour. You could have a complete set made and be armoured head to toe in only two months for a suit of plain armour, somewhat longer if a pattern was introduced.
 

Amazing work.
 

I have always pictured myself as the next Arogorn or Legolas from the Lord of the Rings. Well a girl can dream. This sword was perfect, so light allowing me to give a good swing, it was excellently balanced.
 
 

Event:- Daglan this Saturday evening at 7 o’clock – Soiree Cabaret with Paris-Londres at the Salle Des Fêtes. With an aperitif and nibbles. Ten euro per adult and three euro for children.

 
 

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“The Envy Of The Whole World”.

This is how President Emmanuel Macron described the French baguette earlier this year when he backed calls to have it listed as a UNESCO cultural treasure.

Intrigued and delighted by this, I just had to find out more information about the baguette, why that shape, how did it become so popular in every corner of France, in short what is the history of the tradition French Baguette.

Delicious.

 

Starting around the 14th and 15th century people had to use a Communal oven to bake their bread, which was mostly round in shape. However, even though they were called Communal they did not belong to the Community. The oven was the property of the local Lord or the Church who would charge the surfs for baking their bread. Following the French Revolution, the ovens became the property of the village; no more fees.

 

Once a week the oven was fired up and the locals would carry the dough they had prepared at home to the oven. Each family would mark the top of the bread with a distinctive cut to distinguish their bread from the other families.

 

The ash created during the baking was collected, mixed with water and used for the laundry.

Baguette’s really took off in the 1920’s after a new law prevented workers starting work before 4am. In older to get the bread baked in time for breakfast, bakers started to make long, thin ‘wand”s of bread. Although the dough at that time was still made at home and then taken to the Boulangerie to bake.

 

Bread oven’s can be seen all over France in the Boulangerie, or in the centre of the village, in the grounds of a property or in the property itself.

So if you are looking for a new home …

 
 

Event:-Le château de Castlenaud celebrates the European Heritage Weekend on the 15th and 16th September with a Medieval Fencing Tournament.
 
 

I Need a White Knight Upon a Mighty Steed!

The beautiful hilltop village of Belves turned back the calender yesterday and presented their Fête Médiévale and it was amazing. Shop owners wore Medieval costumes, musical entertainment in the streets, craft exhibitions, demonstrations of medieval combat, and the incredible mystical woodland sprites. All contributed in making Sunday an incredibly enjoyable day for us and the hundreds of other people that flocked to Belves.

I found my white knight all I need now is a mighty steed!
 

Stunning costume by the Desmodium players.

While the males were mischievous, the female had a pocket full of happiness that she would sprinkle onto the crowds.

The male sprite on the right is teasing people looking out of their window.

 
All of the performance was completed on stilts, up hill and down, they danced around the streets of Belves.

I could have watched them all day, magnificent.
 

The Medieval combat display with sword, knife, axe, spear and club.
Everyone from children to adults were shouting for their favourite to win.

Wow, brilliant combat in extreme heat nearly 40C. It gave you a taste of how brutal Medieval life was.
 

Soukha, music and dance with jugglers and aerial acrobat.
 

Love the detail of the Medieval peasant costume.
 
 

Event:- Daglan Fête this coming weekend.
Not too be missed is the parade on Sunday afternoon and the fireworks in the evening.

 
 

Zig-Zag Gardens of Gourdon.

The Medieval houses and the gardens of the old quarter in Gourdon date from the time of Charlemagne. In 812 a Legal Act was formed for the protection of trees, vegetables and plants that were to be cultivated. The list of plants that were to be used changed the organisation of the Medieval gardens. It also was the start of the creation of separate gardens. Some herbal, vegetables, trees and a few ornamental. The division of the gardens and the plants were all used in this period.

Porte du Majou, one of the four medieval gates were built in the 14C for protection of the city and leads onto the weavers quarter next to the Chapel of Notre Dame which was built in the 15th century.
 

Dwellings that date back to the Medieval Period.
 

Superb architecture. A little warn now but still stunning.
 

Zig-Zag Gardens literally zig-zag around the Medieval quarter. We did not have time to view them all which are eight in total so that six, seven and eight will have to wait until our next visit.

Apple trees or rather the training of apple trees above, was very popular in the Middle Ages for decorating a wall but its origins date back to ancient Egypt.
 

The Labyrinth. Five pathways of the labyrinth show the path of the pilgrims at Chartres which date back to the 13C. At the centre, the rose symbolises God. The paths represent Christians, Life: long and demanding, filled with trials on the journey towards eternal life. The oldest representation of a Labyrinth was found in Siberia and were known to many ancient civilisations, Ancient Egypt and Greece. At the end of the Middle Ages however, the labyrinth became the symbol of evil and by the 14C the clergy erased mazes drawn on the ground. Those which could not be destroyed were modified into games or hidden under carpets. In 1538 a law was passed banning these designs.
 

The Rosarium. Is a lovely tranquil garden which symbolises Venus, Bacchus and the Graces. It is the symbol of vegetation in Paradise.
 

Herb Garden which was started as a separate garden in the Middle Ages, and was very popular for medicine which were cultivated by the Monasteries.
 
 

Event of the year,
Féte de Saint-Louis, August 17th to 20th, Daglan.

 
 

Le Château De Monbazillac Part Two.

Fist of all, Bravo Les Bleus. I do not usually watch football but I, like millions of others, just had to watch this match.

Wow… you are so awesome.

 

O.K back to Monbazillac.

There is a very interesting room in the Château called Mounet-Sully room. There is only a brief explanation of the person so I just had to find out more. Mounet-Sully (birth name Jean-Sully Mounet was born in 1841 in Bergerac) and he became a famous actor, painter, sculptor and writer. He was a member of the celebrated Comedie Francaise, as was his brother Paul.

His most famous role as an actor was that of Oedipus in L’Oedipe, a French version by Jules Lacroix. He was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1889.

A little bit of scandal, his brother Paul was famous not only for his acting but for his affair with Sarah Bernhardt. Who’s picture you can see on the table in the room.

Mounet-Sully caricatures.

 
In the tower room is a gorgeous collection of white porcelain from Limoges which also belonged to Mounet-Sully.
 

The Bedroom of the Viscountess.

A Reconstruction of a lady’s bedroom in the 17th Century.

 

Next to the bedroom is a wonderful room filled with sketches of Ladies fashions from the Edwardian period. I particularly liked this sketch above, the costume looks so elegant and stylish.
 

We had a sneaky peek into this room which is being restored to its former glory.
 
 

Events:-

Saint-Pompon Night market open every Saturday until 18th August.

Celtic night in the village of Saint Andre d’Allas on 21st July.