Kelmarsh and Market Harborough

14-16 July 2012

I caught the train to a small town called Market Harborough where Boyd picked me up. We drove straight to the shopping centre and bought a pair of gumboots each - the recent wet weather had turned the site to a bit of a bog.

Boyd was working for English Heritage helping set up the Kelmarsh Festival of History - a multi-period living history display from Roman to WWII - set on the grounds of Kelmarsh Hall.  The site was huge, as were the number of re-enactors. It took a good 10 minutes or so to walk across the site, depending on how often you paused to look at something interesting. 

And there was plenty of interesting to look at. On one side of the fields a group were constructing a wooden fort wall complete with collapsing door and other sections designed to come down in a cloud of smoke and a flash of gunpowder. At the other end was a WWI trench and tanks with soldiers hurrying around looking busy. There was also a re-enactors market selling a huge range of goods. It was a little heartbreaking seeing for sale all the items we've fought so long and hard to assemble or make - you could come to the market and kit yourself out with everything you'd need for living history without stitching, sawing, forging or anything more strenuous than putting your hand in your wallet. *sigh* 

Festival site and Kelmarsh Hall.

I loitered around for the afternoon while Boyd worked, and then we grabbed something to eat from the food stalls (a not very pleasant bun with a meat patty and a slice of cheese for £5!) and settled down to the serious work of trying the ciders and ales on tap. We enjoyed an evening talking to James Baugh and some of his friends and then headed back to the pub in a nearby village to sleep.

In the morning we were woken to the bad news that the festival had been cancelled due to heavy rain overnight! When we got to the site it was obvious why - there was a river running through the campsite and the market, and the area where the horses were being kept was nearly two feet underwater. The aluminium sheets that had been laid down for vehicles to drive across the grass were floating!

Needless to say we were very disappointed, as this was one of the last big festivals of the season, and Tewkesbury was on the same weekend so we couldn't get to that either. And I had taken no photos of anything the day before expecting to have much better opportunities over the weekend.

After the clean up, when Boyd was released, we called a taxi and got a ride back into Market Harborough. The taxi driver was very friendly and gave us some suggestions of places we might be able to find a bed for the night. We ended up driving around about four different hotels before we found one that had a room, and within our price range. 

We ended up staying at the Three Swans Hotel on the main street. It was a nice place, and clean and dry, but cost over £70 a night, although this wasn't too bad when compared to a hostel double room which was going for £60 a night in London. Still, it was more than we had planned to spend.
We did try to make the most of the English Breakfast that was included...

We decided to spend the rest of the weekend in Market Harborough instead of going back to damp rainy London. Market Harborough is a small town of around 20,000 people. It has a long history, and one of the key buildings in the centre of the town is an old church built between 1300 and 1500, and an old wooden building that used to be a school room built in the early 1600s.

The Old Grammar School building, 1614.

St Dionysius Parish Church.
Other than these two buildings, the town was more or less like anywhere else, with all the usual shops and businesses. We spent some time walking around the town and the pretty park nearby, but by the end of a day we had pretty much 'done' Market Harborough. 

Streets of Market Harborough.
We grabbed dinner the first night in a local pub, which was not bad for the price, and had an early night.

The next day we wandered around the town, I bought a pair of shoes for work, and that was about it. For dinner we went to a mexican restaurant called Rio Bravo which was excellent! But somehow I can't see us making a trip out there just for dinner.

We headed back to to London the next morning and Boyd headed back to work the following day.
So much for our first medieval outing in the UK.


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