Rain Didn’t Stop PlayIn 1309, Edward II granted Walter Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter a charter for the town of Chudleigh, permitting a weekly market and an annual fair. Being Devon, it may well have been raining. It certainly rained at times this weekend, when the people of Chudleigh celebrated the 700th anniversary of the charter. However, this didn’t dampen the spirits and a truly memorable occasion was laid on by the local History Group.
The weekend started with two contrasting events on Friday evening. The entertainment was presented in a packed marquee, with audience spilling out on to the grass. First there was a recital by Media Vita (Colin Avery and friends) of music with a medieval flavour. This was humorous and serious by turn and included the opportunity for the audience to have a go at part-singing.
This was followed by ‘The Quest for Salvation’ the latest offering from the Chudleigh Repertory and Performance Society. Their explanation of how the charter was granted started plausibly enough with the demand from the Norman king for 20% tax. However, it quickly moved to the realms of fantasy with talking deer, a witch and a giant dragon which had stolen the king’s daughter. The most memorable parts were the drinking song (where the whole cast started in time and in harmony and ended up in drunken disarray) and the point where the hero’s spear lit up like a medieval light sabre.
Saturday was the main day of the celebration. During a day of torrential rain, the marquee was transformed into a marketplace with stalls selling craft items, honey and wax products, local cheeses and home-made cakes. The History Group did a brisk trade in copies of the recently-published ‘Chudleigh Book’. Revolting Peasants told engaging stories, Elfic the Jester juggled knives while riding a unicycle and the Carnival Queen was crowned. There were peasants and wenches all over the place and the Sherriff of Nottingham was on hand to sign autographs.
Towards evening, the rain finally stopped and 150 people gathered for a medieval banquet. Many had dressed for the occasion. Knights, monks, ladies, wenches and even an executioner tucked in to roasted boar with apple glaze, parkland venison with fruits of the forest, chicken and figs and fresh Teign salmon. The event was a complete sell-out and tickets consisted of wooden platters which will serve as a lasting memento of a great, if slightly damp, celebratory weekend.