Approaching the Minstrels' Court

It's not long until this year's Minstrels' Court event, which will be held on Saturday 27th June.  As always it takes place in St John's Church, Chester, next to the amphitheatre ruins.  It is one of only a couple of re-enactment or living history events that takes place in its original and authentic location.

For those who haven't come across the event before, it's the recreation of the annual gathering of all minstrels in Cheshire, which had taken place in the city each midsummer from 1204 to 1756. Entertainers would obtain their licence to perform, without which they risked arrest.  The tradition began when the minstrels helped to save the Earl of Chester from the castle where he was besieged by the Welsh.  You can read more about it elsewhere on this blog.

We're so pleased to have the ongoing support of dozens of musicians, who kindly give up their time to be part of this event.  There will be some of the country's top historical musicians performing through the day in the church, with more informal music sessions in the large porch and outside too.

Around the church there will be fascinating living history displays, recreating some of the bustling scenes which were always part of life in St John's in medieval times.  Far from a place of quiet prayer, the church had business dealings and legal contracts made within its walls.  So if you're visiting the Minstrels' Court, expect to meet scribes, weavers, pilgrims, traders and even soldiers.

In the chancel of the church there will be performances of medieval and Renaissance music, along with legends and folk tales from storytellers, a medieval puppet show and even the demonstration of the arming of a knight.

At 1pm the gathered minstrels leave the church to process through the city's busy streets, causing quite a stir with playing and dancing.  At around 1.30pm they arrive back at St John's to gain their licences in a recreation of the original ceremony.  This is one of the most atmospheric moments of the day.  And then it's back to more music and living history.

The daytime event runs from 10.30am-5pm, everyone is welcome and it's free.

In the evening there is a special concert in the church, starting at 7.30pm and featuring Piva, one of world's best Renaissance bands.  Tickets are just £5 on the door.  Well worth catching their fantastic music in this amazing setting.

Hopefully we'll see some of you at the Minstrels' Court for the usual mayhem and merriment!