A week in the french countryside

This year’s Company season started with a week in France. We spent a full week from Sunday the 18th to Sunday the 24th of June in the beautiful Chateau Valleroy, a castle located in the department Haute-Saone in the region of Franche-Comté – actually within the former duchy of Burgundy, therefore especially suitable for the Company of Saint George.


The castle as seen from South (photo Eliane Caramanna)

The event was in so far different as it was a private event with only a small number of invited visitors during two days, guided by the castle-owners Jean-Claude and Jqcqueline Borsotti – a friendly couple to be praised for their hospitality. The second difference  was the rather unusually small number of slightly above 20 participants.
 
As all reenactors surely know the actual events are just the icing of the cake, ahead of these there is a multitude of research, preparations and planning.
Why not combine it to do the preparation for future events as an event in its own right?
This is where Valleroy comes in to the story.
 
The arrival on Sunday was followed by changing the castle’s main hall appearance into a more “medieval” look with removing modern furniture and museum models etc.


After making ourselves comfortable in the castle, we started our weekly schedule – and a rather crammed schedule it was!

There were two practical projects:
- Building a clay oven to bake bread
- Sewing an awning for the Company

These projects at first seemed rather elaborate for such a small group of workers. Indeed: the sewing-crew suffered from aching fingers after two days of work. But just as dedicated as the very “muddyevil” oven-builder crew, they achieved their tasks with endurance and dedication and thus were able to finish both efficient and functional, as well as asthetically satisfying products.


The oven is built with bricks that rest on a solid base. Note the small wooden pieces inserted between the bricks to start with the bow (photo Eliane Caramanna)

We were not only able to taste delicious bread on Sunday morning from a freshly finished bread oven (with a capacity of about 10 kg bread per run), but also now have an impressive awning of around 26 m² and poles, suitable for the upcoming judicial court-portrayal in Lenzburg, as well as other future uses for campsites and the like.


A proud builder crew in front of their oven, big enough for 10kg of bread (photo Eliane Caramanna)


The awning or sunroof with two of the seamstresses (photo Eliane Caramanna)
 
But although these projects kept a constant number of around ten people busy throughout the week, they were more of side-projects. The main topic was the organization for a rather elaborate event in 2013: the 25th anniversary of the Company of Saint George!

Indeed ye good ole’ Company is going to celebrate 25 years of high-fidelity living history and reenactment! Starting with a few number of true aficionados back in the 80ies the Company has developed into an association of almost 100 active enthusiasts from all over Europe.  I am hopefully not bragging too much, but the Company has built up a certain reputation for living history over the years.
Given the fact that some of our present  members were literally born into the company, this is for sure reason enough for…well, let’s say an “extravaganza” of a feast in 2013… for understandable reasons our lips shall remain closed….
 
As being described above, this week served more as preparation for upcoming events.
But nevertheless we achieved some exceptional moments: having people busily buzzing around from the waking call of the nearby churchbells at 6:00 in the morning on through the day, filled the castle with an extraordinary atmosphere – maybe as close as we modern people can get to late medieval daylife routine.
 
Two special highlights should be mentioned: we had a visit from Sylvia Rhyne and Eric Redlinger, otherwise known as Asteria. Participating as guests at an evening dinner throughout the week, these two fine musicians entertained us with a couple of songs from their new album of courtly Burgundian songs from 1470, delivered with artful delicacy, very much to our enjoyment. Whereas they assured us that it was a delightful moment for them to perform this music in front of a audience in matching clothing for the very first time.
 
Of course, a week-long event deserves a festive dinner as highlight on Saturday – and a fine dinner we had. The excellent kitchen team provided us with tasty dishes, while the castle-owners experienced a glimpse of a medieval banquet at the high table in medieval clothing and attitude. Obviously enjoyable enough to assure us of a future return to this beautiful place….


A dish of minced mead arranged to portray the head of the Dragon slain by St. George. Note the fire breath frozen in the moment of death. (photo Eliane Caramanna)


The main hall of Valleroy, beautifully restored by Jean-Paul et Jacqueline Borsotti (photo Eliane Caramanna)

Sunday morning was filled with busy cleaning and packing to leave the place in a decent manner – a bit tired, a bit dusty, slightly sad due to saying farewell, but full of hope to return next year!

 

By Wolfgang Ritter, Veteran Company Member

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