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‘Battle of Saundersfoot’ goes with a bang!
Friday, 29 June 2012
Pic. Gareth Davies Photography
Last weekend saw colour, drum beat and cannon fire around Saundersfoot as the Village welcomed a visit by the Sealed Knot to stage an imagined Civil War battle as the Royalist armies marched on Tenby and Pembroke to be temporarily held at Saundersfoot by the Parliamentarians.
This was a true partnering event, with the members of the village’s Historical Society, Chamber for Tourism and Development Trust all coming together with Mr. Terry John, of The Knot, to organise a wonderful three-day event.
Troops and their families arrived from all over the UK during Thursday and Friday and were well looked after by Roger Stanford and Chris Parker, of the Saundersfoot Sports and Social Club, with logistical help provided by Dave Busby, of Wales Environmental Services.
The Knotters were delighted with the facilities and soon set about erecting their 17th century tents to provide a living history exhibition where pupils from Saundersfoot School were able to experience life during the period.
Heavy overnight rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the troops and by Saturday morning there were over 100 assembled for the rousing march around the village to the regimental drums.
The whole proceedings were ably marshalled by the Tenby and Pembroke Divisions of the Air Training Corps.
In addition to the weapon displays that were seen over the previous two years, a replica cannon had been commandeered by the Royalists to give them an advantage over the opposition; the techniques used by pike-men, musketeers and artillery were professionally demonstrated to the crowds during the drill demonstrations on the beach.
The afternoon’s main event ‘The Battle of Saundersfoot’ was eagerly awaited by residents and visitors alike, and at 2.30 pm, the drums could be heard as the two armies’ took their positions; the Parliamentarians, defending the beach, expected a seaward landing and were disadvantaged when the Royalists caught them unawares and attacked from Coppet Hall.
The yells and drum beat heralded the start of cannon and musket fire, leading to scrums of pike-men and hand-to-hand combat; the smell of black powder and smoke billowing across the beach made this an extremely realistic spectacle.
After an hour of authentic battle scenarios, the Royalists gained the upper hand and saw off the opposition as they made their way to Tenby and on to Pembroke.
Visitors to Saundersfoot were taken by surprise after the Saturday battle, as in the evening the troops and their families took to the streets of the village in full costume to savour the restaurants and public houses and it is reported that regimental songs could be heard well into the evening.
The organisers were delighted with the spectacle and were joined on Saturday and Sunday by Clr. Steve John, chairman, of the community council, and Sunday saw the vice-chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, Clr. Arwyn Williams, attend to watch the battle (Clr. Williams represents one of the Pembroke wards and was interested in the outcome).
Clr. Phil Baker, chairman of Saundersfoot Bay Development Trust, said: “This event has surpassed all of our expectations; the colour, noise and even the smell of cannon and musket fire has added a new dimension to the village. I have spoken to a number of the Sealed Knot and know that both the officers and troops have been delighted with the organisation which has been due to the expertise of Terry and Gareth and also the warm welcome extended to them by villagers.
“A lot of work was put in by the small hard-working committee, especially Mary, Tessa and Angela. A huge thank you to PLANED who provided all of the advertising posters and logistical help, to the restaurants who produced authentic 17th century cakes, the RNLI lifeguards who helped throughout the two days and to the Saundersfoot branch of Keep Wales Tidy who litter-picked the beach before and after every battle.
“I would also thank the sponsors, Saundersfoot Chamber for Tourism, Costain and Wales Environmental Services, and a huge thanks to Andrew at St. Brides Spa Hotel for the use of his conference rooms. I look forward to welcoming the Sealed Knot back to Saundersfoot in the very near future.”
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Sir Ray Tindle
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