Johnson Fold pupils step back in time to Mediaeval England

Minstrel John Cliffe teaches jousting to pupils Beth Elson and Aaron Varey

Minstrel John Cliffe teaches jousting to pupils Beth Elson and Aaron Varey

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , education reporter

YOUNG time-travellers stepped back to the era of knights and castles to experience life in mediaeval England.

Excited pupils at Johnson Fold School left the 21st century behind to be told the story of The Salford Archer — A Mediaeval Tale.

They met mediaeval characters Mary Middleton, the housekeeper of Hope Hall, Will Talkington the Yeoman, John Cliffe the minstrel, and archer Thomas de Eccles, who gave them an insight into life during the 1400s and 1500s.

The youngsters learned the art of archery, jousting, mediaeval children’s games, crafts and arts including brass rubbing.

They saw the weapons used during the era and the forms of punishment handed out — including the penalty for ‘bickering people’.

The mediaeval area was recreated at the school thanks to a successful £9,600 Lottery bid by Domenico Vaughan to create a project about life in the Salford Hundred, a region which was at least the size of Greater Manchester and took in Bolton.

The idea stemmed from Mr Vaughan’s love of archery. The local authority worker runs not-for-profit making archery clubs to introduce people to the sport.

Together with other amateur historians he has been researching people from the mediaeval era to bring to life in the 21st century.

All the characters in the tale existed in real life.

Mr Vaughan said: “The project started with Thomas de Eccles, who was in the retinue of Sir John Radclyffe.

“We researched other characters of the time, but records on the people are very limited, so we have had to use a little artistic licence.

“All the characters bring a wealth of expertise to the presentation, and I take on the role of Thomas de Eccles and know, through my own interest, a lot about archery.”

Highlights of the day included Will and Mary arguing and being put into special “stocks”

until they resolved their differences, while children found out about mediaeval laws and the harsh punishments.

Mr Vaughan said children also found out about famous sayings, such as “across the threshold”, and herbs used to treat ailments as well as why football was banned.

The day ended with a traditional mediaeval dance.

Mr Vaughan said: “We were showing them what life would have been like then. The children really enjoyed it, they were focused and interested.

“History is important because it shows why we are where we are now. All periods of history do, and our interest is in mediaeval history.

“We had great feedback from the children, with one enjoying the whipping top and another the braiding.”

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