Our local area is set to play host to the next major tournament on the international medieval jousting circuit this September at the upcoming St Ives Medieval Faire.
No doubt you’ve read about it in previous years, perhaps even seen it on the news or televised live by Fox Sports… but have you ever been to the St Ives Medieval Faire? It’s a unique world-class event right here on our doorstep! And what’s more, Australia has its very own Jousting World Champion.
Presented by Ku-ring-gai Council, the Faire is Australia’s most authentic medieval event and one of the most prestigious fixtures on the international competitive jousting calendar. The Tournament is the Australian leg of three-part ‘Tournament of the Saints’ world series that includes the Tournament of St George in Russia and the Tournament of St Michael in France.
Australia’s own Phillip Leitch, who was recently crowned World Jousting Champion, is among the eight Australian and international jousters from Russia, Sweden, and England invited to take to part at the Tournament of St Ives on 21-22 September at St Ives Showground. Leitch is hot off the heels of winning England’s Arundel Castle Joust in July and as the reigning St Ives champion, will be looking to continue his 2019 winning streak with another victory, even if it’s at the expense of one of his compatriots.
“Australia bats above its average when it comes to jousting – there are four of us competing at St Ives this year and the competition is so close, any one of us Aussies or internationals could take out the title,” said Leitch. “Solid lance jousting as a sport is extremely competitive – there are only 30 people in the world who have the skill to compete at this level. Breaking a 3.5m lance made from solid pine on to your opponent while riding a horse at 20km/h with a helmet on, takes a lot of training, strength, concentration and investment.” Also taking to the tilt this year will be the world’s only female solid lance jouster, Sweden’s Caroline Andersson. The 2018 Tournament of St Ives was her first international outing with solid lances and she returns this year with another 12 months of training under her belt to take on the men. “When you’re in armour, it doesn’t matter whether your opponent is a man or a woman, there is still a lance with a steel spike coming at you and your goal is still to break your lance. We are all equal inside the armour. The skill comes out in your horsemanship, strength and nerve,” said Leitch of his opponent.
While the joust is expected to draw the biggest crowds at the Faire, Sydney kids will also have their chance to practise their own knight skills at the St Ives knight school, try their hands at archery and other medieval crafting workshops, and watch the full flight birds of prey in an action-packed mock battle display. This year’s Faire will also host a pop-up museum displaying real medieval artefacts from the Dark Ages (350-800AD). An array of jewellery, warrior grave items, recovered swords, spears, belt fittings and arrows will all be on show for the first time in nearly 30 years in Australia.
“The St Ives Medieval Faire is committed to educating Australians about this fascinating period in human history,” said Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson. “People can now see real medieval artefacts, bringing the period to life even more.” Organisers are expecting crowds of more than 15,000 through the gates, with plenty of spectacular family-friendly entertainment on offer over the two days. The Faire boasts a range of activities for all ages including:
- A living medieval village filled with more than 350 historical reenactors and authentic medieval markets
- A life size trebuchet (a giant medieval catapult)
- Traditional birds of prey
- Traditional archery and battle demonstrations
- Family activities including pony rides, maille workshops and sword fighting classes
- Medieval arts and crafts including calligraphy and fabric dying, and shoemaking and leadlight demonstrations
- Mock medieval trials showcasing the Anglo Saxon legal system
- Medieval medicine and mock surgery display
- Icelandic viking horses and Norwegian elkhounds
- Medieval and modern food options
- Medieval beer brewed by Two Birds Brewing
- Medieval minstrels and musicians