That was a joke, literally, so I could make that pun. Sorry if I got your hopes up that this was going to be a blog detailing some kind of chain-mail rave. Maybe next time.
What this post is really about is Neil Griffiths, Warwick Events manager and medieval extraordinaire. We all have our hobbies but we are not all lucky enough to bring these into our working lives. Neil is one of these lucky few; he blends his 22 years events’ experience with his long-term love of medieval history. This is how the unusual combination of his medieval corporate events was born.
Neil’s medieval story begins where all good stories do: once upon a time, long ago, little Neil was given a book on medieval knights. Whether his love came from how the medieval period links with our lives today, or because it was just hilarious men running round in tin suits, who knows; maybe a combination of both? Either way it has been a love which has lasted a life time. He studied a degree in it, at 20 he had his first professional joust (sadly being scripted to lose), he owns a home bursting at the seams with medieval history and many of his best friends are like-minded medieval buffs.
Combining his two loves was not something that actually occurred to Neil. He was asked at one of his English Heritage volunteer days to put together a medieval themed activity. Neil had a brain wave moment, where he realised he had the ability to draw on his event expertise and hobbies to create corporate medieval events; to break the mould of the boring corporate event structure. Offering flexible dynamic, ‘edutainment’; programmes that are natural team bonding exercises; ones that are so much more interesting than your run-of-the-mill corporate events.
So after working out the kinks, Neil has created two unique activities:
Guests are taught a breathtaking variety of skills, sourced from Neil’s Living Historians contacts. From martial skills taken from 800 year old training documents, teaching swordplay, archery, axe throwing to crafts, calligraphy, medicine, cookery (literally medieval bake-off). As Neil says “everything from the past can be added into an event. People will never forget getting hands on with history.”
An immersive evening medieval style game show, this medieval themed dinner party sees teams getting involved in different rounds such as: the fastest to dress a team member in armour, medieval quizzes or a medieval fear factor.
Neil wants to give little glimpses into what people’s lives were like back then. Peasant to Knight, they lived, laughed and loved just as we do now. Neil wants to the experience of just how difficult and time consuming it was for them to make or do anything. From the weaving of rough linen from flax, to sourcing the best steel from Spain. Nothing was simple, so learning about the historical complexities can be oddly comforting, coming from our different but equally complex time.
What makes Neil’s activities special is they have authenticity. It is not just some gimmick but a true labour of love. Battles have the same Norman French commands, weapons are forged replicas of historical artefacts, cloth itself is made from linen, wool, silk and dyed with natural dyes. Everything has provenance, sourced from primary sources, paintings and archaeological remains. Neil walks a fine line, balancing authenticity with entertainment, but from the reviews he receives, he gets it just right.
An interesting medieval factlet
There was a man named Daniel of Beccles who wrote England’s first book on ‘manners’. Some gems from this tome include:
- Only the nobility may urinate inside a Lord’s hall, everyone else must go outside.
- Do not ride your horse into the hall of your Lord.
- If there is something you do not want people to know, do not tell it to your wife.
How far we have come … ? Kidding, I would never be so rude as to ride my horse into the hall of my liege lord.
Whatever peoples hobbies are, it always cheers me to see people who are so excited about their passions and find ways in which they can share them with other people. I hope this article might speak to those people. The ones who managed to bring their child’s play into their adult lives. Those who loved trains and planes and became engineers. Those who loved dinosaurs and became palaeontologists (Ross from Friends). Or those who loved parties so became an events demi-god (Emma from Warwick Events – cough!).
WE work in and around Stratford-upon-Avon. Yep, the maximum distance you’ll catch us is 50 miles from the office. That is why we get to work with wonderful and weird people by the likes of Neil. People who like us, are excited and passionate about their work and that is why we get to bring these weird and wonderful people to you!