The Fairfax Battalia was formed from four regiments of the Roundhead Association of the English Civil War Society (ECWS), drawn together by a common aim to recreate a 17th century infantry company based on Sir Thomas Fairfax's New Model Army regiment. We have striven hard to gain our reputation for accuracy and authenticity through factors such as
Our reputation for both quality and accuracy has led to us being invited to appear at prestigious locations and events such as the Tower of London, National Trust sites such as Wimpole Hall, and English Heritage's showcase 'Festival of History' event. We have also been invited to appear in film and television productions such as Channel 4's Time Team and the BBC's 'A History of Britain'.
In an average year, we have between 9 and 12 events, mainly throughout the summer. Of these, the majority will tend to be battalia size events, often in combination with our friends in other regiments of the English Civil War Society. We have over the years struck up a close relationship with the Marquis of Winchester's (Royalist) regiment and have often worked hand-in-hand with them to organise and present some memorable events. We have also formed a close relationship with De Bergsche Battery, a late 16th century re-enactment group from Geertruidenberg in The Netherlands, supporting each other at our respective events.
These events are often in interesting historical locations such as historic houses or castles. The events will often be tailored to a sponsor's desires and the location in which they take place, and as such can take a variety of forms. However, they will tend to have the following elements in common:
A common feature of events is a military encampment with attendant camp followers. Depending upon the location this can be based in the grounds of a house (and often inside as well), with a formal tented encampment representing the army billeted upon that location, complete with officers' quarters and soldiers' tents, or a less structured camp representing the army on the march, with rough shelters and less grandeur.
As civil war raged throughout the period there was an inevitable, sometimes beneficial but often uncomfortable, convergence between the civilian and military realms. We are always of conscious of this, and living histories generally include a large civilian element of civilian camp followers, as well as any opportunities the location may allow for portrayal of more settled domestic life, such as a local landowner and household. Activities frequently include a sutlery, preparing food from authentic recipes for the common soldiers and officers, a blacksmith, a barber surgeon or a laundry
Events generally have a theme, and where possible this theme and any characters portrayed are tailored to represent genuine historic events in the area.
Frequent drill was an important part of life for the army, as the weapons and tactics of the period required a considerable degree of skill and practice for their effective use. A drill display is a common feature of our events, not only allowing us to hone our own martial skills but also providing an opportunity to demonstrate the use of the weapons and tactics of the period to the public.
Drill displays usually involve demonstrations of pike and musket drill, including a close-up view of the many movements involved in loading and firing a musket, the drummers playing the commands of battle and the manoeuvres of the unit around the battlefield.
These represent a company size battle between the Battalia and a similarly sized Royalist opponent, usually our friends in the Marquis of Winchester's regiment. These skirmishes demonstrate the use of period tactics and weapons on the battlefield, and provide an exciting show for the public.
Two or three times per year the battallia take part in major battles with the rest of the English Civil War Society. These are truly spectacular events, with hundreds of soldiers on both sides, including cavalry and artillery. They portray in graphic detail the noise and fury of the battlefield, with the colourful armies shrouded in gunsmoke, the hoofbeats of the charging cavalry and roar of the cannon, the clash of the armoured pikemen straining for advantage over each other, and the thunderous volleys of the musketeers' fire.
Frequently staged as part of a larger event such as a major multi-period re-enactment, these are a truly exhilarating experience for spectator and participant alike.
Although militarily themed events have traditionally been the mainstay of our activities, the Battalia places equal importance on the portrayal of civilian life in the mid-seventeenth century. We are presenting an increasing number of purely civilian themed events. These often take the form of populating a period house, bringing it to life with the full range of household activities, from mundane everyday activities such as the preparation and serving of meals, to more unusual happenings such as a parish court or a wedding.
Social events are also an important part of our activities. Every year we hold banquets, usually in the autumn or winter, giving everybody a chance to gather together in a relaxed setting and socialise. We arrange events such as training or make and mend weekends as an opportunity to meet, learn new skills, or pass our research on to each other, to make clothing or prepare equipment for the upcoming season.