Monday, August 04, 2008

Tudor Day at Southchurch Hall

Sunday saw me back in Sunny Essex for a visit to Southchurch Hall Museum in Southend for their annual Tudor Day. I had no idea this was such a big event - as I arrived re-enactors were setting up already with various stalls showing how a fletcher works, plus a potter, a scrivener, various herbalists and even a guy with a genuine ancient lathe.
My opening part of the day was just a walkabout meet and greet, which was great as the place was packed. As I wandered round the side of the house a figure suddenly ran full tilt from one of the doors, straight at me. He was dressed as a peasant, and with a great leap prostrated himself at my feet.
"MAJESTY!" He yelled at top volume. Everyone turned and looked towards us. "GRAVE NEWS FROM PORTSMOUTH!" He screamed at the top of his lungs. I was a little taken aback and wasn't sure quite how to react. He then launched into a full 15 minute account of the sinking of the Mary Rose in old English, complete with screaming, eye rolling, hand ringing, lots of sweating and more over acting than a container truck full of Robert Newtons. On finishing he walked away from me to the sound of polite applause and the occasional child saying "Mummy, I'm scared." About two hours later, whilst sitting on my throne in the main hall having a rest, there is a blur or movement and suddenly this lunatic is launching into his Mary Rose routine all over again. More screaming, sweating, shaking and hollering, and as we are indoors this time, as he finishes there is a group of about 100 people looking on. He walks out of the room to polite applause and all 100 pairs of eyes turn towards me expecting something similar. I smile lamely at them and then say "And now, the weather..." which got a great laugh.
My two talks went really well, especially the second one outside which attracted something like 150 people all round me as I went through the usual Henry stuff. I met some lovely people at the do, especially the wonderful man who works at Hampton Court Palace and has promised possible great things in the future. Also a big "Hello" to the lovely people from the St John's Ambulance people and the delightful Lisa from Southend Pier!
It was a great day and a joy to perform at. I am really looking forward to going back there again next August. Tomorrow, Tuesday, I am doing an after lunch talk for the Dementia Care Trust Charity in Weston-super-Mare, and no, before you ask, not on the pier.

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