A plague-ridden town played host to a bloody battle on Sunday, as it was swept back to 1644 to celebrate Monmouth School’s 400th anniversary.
Hundreds of people flocked to the School’s playing fields to see the Royalists reclaim control of Monmouth from the Parliamentarians in a fantastically loud fight staged by renowned re-enactment society the Sealed Knot.
Founded in 1967 by Old Monmothian and “shining star” Brigadier Peter Young, the society’s members also set up a living history camp to teach visitors about life in the 17th century.
The scene was set on Saturday, as local grandee the Marquis of Worcester, demanded the return of ‘his’ town – the admittedly staunchly-royalist Monmouth, from the control of the Parliamentarians under Colonel Massey.
Swords were crossed on the ancient Monnow Bridge and unsuccessful negotiations between the two sides took place at the Shire Hall, leading to the climactic clash on Sunday afternoon.
Elizabeth Waters from Redbrook brought her daughter Flora, seven, and son Finlay, 12, to see the battle.
She said: “It’s really authentic.
“This is a fantastic way to celebrate the School’s 400th anniversary – it has definitely united the town.
“You take your local environment for granted sometimes, it’s amazing what we didn’t know about our history.
“To see it come to life like this makes you stop and appreciate how much brhistory we have.
“I would love to go back in time.
“The camp really helps and teaches everyone about what it was like.
And Flora added: “The battle was very good and very noisy – it hurt my ears.
“It looked very realistic and I learnt a lot.
“I felt like I had gone back in time.”
Simon Jarvis from the The Sealed Knot demonstrates firing a Civil War era musket for Monmouth School Junior History Society.
Former HMSG pupil Beth Fordham, who now lives in Hong Kong, had returned to her home town to visit her parents.
She said: “I think it’s good to reminded of our history.
“It’s amazing to think this was going on at the same time the School was being built.
“I’ve never seen anything like this here before, it’s unique.”
To remember highly decorated Brigadier Peter Young, who attended Monmouth School between 1928 and 1933, Sealed Knot member John Oakley gave a moving talk about the inspirational soldier in the School’s pavilion.
He said: “Peter was a shining star.
“He was a soldier for the most part, mentor to many, founder of the Sealed Knot and responsible for the spread of re-enactment across the world – I’m proud to have known him.
“We don’t see the like of people like Peter Young these days.
“He broke the mould as he often did and became the founder of the society we all know and love today.
“It grew like Frankenstein’s monster into a national charity, and now has over 4,000 members.”
Long-term Knot member Megan Perry presented Monmouth School’s Headmaster Dr Steven Connors with a portrait of the popular brigadier, who died in 1988.
Dr Connors thanked the society, adding: “I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Monmouth School than to celebrate one of its shining stars of history.”