Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saturday at Abbeystowe

What an weekend. On Saturday, I attended the Abbey Medieval Festival for the first time as a re-enactor. Originally I had planned to be there for the whole weekend, but sickness got in the way and my body was just not up to handling two full days out. I spent Friday evening throwing together everything I needed and packing my car – ready to be up early to get out to Abbey and set up. I rose on Saturday morning at 5.30 (urgh), dressed in my 15th Century gown to the best of my ability and got on the road. It’s not an easy task dressing in a tight side lacing kirtle by yourself, especially when the eyelets are a bit too tight for the lacing aglets. At any rate, I arrived on site just after 6.30am, unloaded my car and got into setting up my shade and table (after having one of my fellow re-enactors lace up my kirtle). We got the site all set up in no time and had enough time before the public arrived for a touch of shopping and purchasing food.
I knew right off the hat that it was going to be one of those days. First, I realised that I had left the belt for my gown at home (it needs a belt to fit properly). Then I realised that the handkerchief linen veil I had spent hours hemming, was ironed and neatly folded on the dining table at home. Finally, the role of linen I was going to bring for display was also left on the couch at home. I persevered though. In the end, I bought a belt from one of the stalls and I had thankfully taken the leftover fabric from my veil to display, so I tore off another strip and just used it as an unhemmed veil.
As for my costume, while I didn’t get my smock made in time (I just used a long chemise from another outfit), I did get the headdress complete to wear and thankfully had the green kirtle and blue Burgundian gown that I had made a few years back that I was able to wear. I really like how the horns that I made finished off the outfit and balanced out my outfit. I was disappointed with the headwrap I had to wear last time I used the outfit, so the horned headdress was a blessing. I made them up out of the book “The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant”, so it really made for a simply pattern drafting process. The veil really completes the look well.
My other new thing for the day was my first attempt at a medieval pork pie. I had found a few recipes on-line and decided to try my hand. So, to be the helpful little fiend that I am, here is what I did (with a few adjustments so that it will be better next time). Please be aware that my pastry recipe is not one from the period – I wanted it to be nice and edible. Many medieval pie pastries were quite thick and sometimes inedible as something simply to preserve your meat in.
600g – 800g pork steak
1 cup beef stock
1 cup red / white wine
2 Tablespoons Honey (omit if you are using a sweet wine)
2 Tablespoons Gravy Powder
1 tsp gelatine (to help the pie set properly)
½ cup diced dates
½ cup raisins
4 Tablespoons fresh grated Ginger
Cornflour to thicken

2 cups plain flour
2 cups self raising flour
120g butter
60ml water

22cm spring form pan

Dice your pork into small pieces and put in a saucepan with a little oil to brown slightly. Add the beef stock, wine and honey and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 – 40 minutes (will help soften the meat). Add gravy powder and gelatine. Add enough cornflour to thicken your mixture enough to satisfy – you want the innards of your pie to hold together when cool. Allow the mixture to cool. Meanwhile make your pastry. Mix the flours together. Rub the butter through with the tips of your fingers. Add water and mix into a dough (you may need more water to get it to come together). Roll mixture into a ball, cover in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Line the bottom of your springform pan with baking paper and heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (moderate). Roll out 2/3 of your pastry on a lightly floured bench and place into the springform pan as the base. Stir the diced dates, raisins and ginger into your meat mixture and pour into the pastry. Roll out the remaining pastry and place on top as the lid of your pie. Trim off the excess pastry leaving a 2cm edge. Roll the edges in to seal the pastry. Cut a few slits in the pie lid for steam to escape. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes. You can either serve it hot or allow the pie to cool before refrigerating. We ate mine cold the next day, and it was lovely.
All in all though, I had a lovely day at Abbey and find that I much prefer to be a re-enactor there than a member of the public. In the end, I did shop a bit, and bought a few re-enactment supplies – a pottery cup and bowl, a wooden plate, dress pins, 3 brooches and a couple of belts. Not sure I want to be sleeping out there though next year – it’s very dirty and cold, and I love a hot shower and my waterbed too much to give that up. Let’s just hope that I am not horribly sick with a lovely sinus infection next year.


  1. A great save for your veil, but how disappointing the beautifully hemmed one was at home.

    So nice to see your pics especially the people I know :D

    1. At least I will still get to wear my veil in the future. Just sucked that I felt so terrible for the day.