May 07, 2018

1068 and All That - first stop Bury Saint Edmunds Arts Festival May 23

The Penland Phezants bring you "As Free As The Waters That Flow Through The Fen; A Very English Resistance: The True Story of Hereward The Wake."

950 years ago, Hereward the Wake came home (from outlawry, exile and a gallery of bold and magical adventures in Cornwall, Ireland and Flanders) as a famous warrior and the leading military genius of his age. He was no Little Englander, speaking several European languages and with experience of leading several foreign armies, and as at home with Danes as with Saxons: his name means 'Head of the army' in both Danish and English. But he did not come home to rest on his laurels. He came home to lead the growing English Resistance against the Norman Conquest. Hereward first avenged the Norman murder of his brother and theft of his manor in his home town of Bourne in Lincolnshire, then established himself in the Isle of Ely alongside the Earl of Morcar (the dead King Harold's brother) and King Sweyn of Denmark, repeatedly outwitting a desperate siege of the Isle personally led by William the Conqueror himself. 

So successful was Hereward's defence that William, incredibly, was on the point of offering peace terms when Hereward was betrayed by his erstwhile military allies, the Abbot and monks of Ely Abbey. The ever-elusive Hereward escaped to further historic triumphs against William's armies at Burgh (Peterborough) and the later rearguard victories against all odds in Fenland, Lincolnshire Greenwood and the ancient Saxon forests of Northamptonshire.

Gareth Calway's 90 minute narrative tells the full story, from the magical folk tales of Hereward's early continental career to his historic defence of Saxon England. Based closely on the honest Latin chronicles compiled by 12C monks, this historically-based narrative gives full rein to the Freeborn English humour and derring do of a real life Robin Hood. (The Robin Hood legend borrows much of the spirit and many of Hereward's real-life adventures.) 

The compelling narrative is given a period flavour by harp music composed and performed by Welsh Romany-influenced harpist Vanessa Wood-Davies and a folk perspective by a sequence of new ballads written by poet Gareth Calway and folk musician Andy Wall.  The Penland Phezants' stirring performance of these is a particular highlight of and perfect fit for this great English folk tale.

Starts: 8pm
Tickets: £10, £2 discount off top price band for Festival Friends, purchase ten or more tickets in one transaction and save £1 per ticket 
Venue: Station Hill Social Club, Bury St Edmunds

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