England's Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle was conceived in 1993 as a celebration to mark the reopening to the public of the magnificent 15th century moated castle. Set in 250 acres of beautiful rolling hills in East Sussex, the Castle was in need of a means to announce to the world that it was again open and a totally authentic medieval festival seemed an ideal solution.
The Festival has now become the largest annual festival of its kind in England, attracting more than 30,000 visitors over the three days of the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Festival has also proved to be an excellent source of badly needed annual funding for the upkeep of the listed building which now has registered charity status.
The objective of the Festival is to re-create a setting that is so complete that visitors are transported back in time for the day. In order to achieve this, no effort or attention to small detail is too great. From the moment of entering the Castle grounds the experience is totally unique and inspiring. Visitors are greeted by costumed attendants and ticket sellers who speak olde English, immediately setting the tone and transforming the scene into the Middle Ages.
The first impression is one of awe, as the magnificence of the Castle itself, surrounded by colourful tents, marquees and hundreds of costumed merchants, knights in armour, archers, performers dancing and playing period musical instruments, fills the visitor with keen anticipation of the experience ahead. While some other stately homes or properties around England claim to have a Medieval Festival, none offers the complete range and quality of experience that is produced at Herstmonceux. If Disney created a magical kingdom reflecting the Middle Ages, England's Medieval Festival would be their model!