I wanted to post a review of the inaugural Fechtschule York event that took place over the weekend of the 4th and 5th of August as it appears to have flown under the radar somewhat. It was a part of the Yorkshire Medieval Festival, the first of which is currently taking place, and saw members of the HEMA/WMA community from up and down the UK come together to do what we all do best. A series of lessons saw Bob Brooks (Hotspur School of Defence), Andy Taylor (Stork's Beak) and Steve Thurston (Dragon's Tayle) put us all through our paces and the late afternoon/evening was given over to lectures, with Andy and Bob being joined by Gordon Hamilton and James Elmslie to help bring an intellectual twist to proceedings.
Proceedings began with aplomb at the Melbourne Center with Andy Taylor taking us straight into an introduction to Meyer's longsword, followed by a short break before launching into a second lesson focusing on Meyer's dussack. Both were very well received and Andy took the time to help those who were new to the systems whilst still challenging those who had encountered Meyer before.
A quick change of venue saw a move to the historic surroundings of the Mansion House and Guildhall where we had the privilege of being able to view the York Civic Sword. This sword of state dates back to 1416 and it was wonderful to be trusted with such a valuable item by the friendly staff at the Mansion House. A pair of lectures closed the day with Bob Brooks giving an excellent talk on Harry Hotspur and James Elmslie taking us through the history and development of the falchion.
Sunday started with a fantastic lesson from Bob Brooks on the messer plays from the Glasgow Fechtbuch (along with a few plays from other sources thrown in for good measure). For anyone who has never had the pleasure of attending one of Bob's lessons he is a splendid teacher and the two hour lesson was over far too soon for the group of new messer enthusiasts! Steve Thurston then took the group through a very unique English longsword lesson focusing on the work of J. Ledall. It was a fascinating, engaging session, Steve and the chaps at Dragon's Tayle have clearly put in a lot of hard work interpreting and developing Ledall's system and it is a joy to behold.
After a short break we enjoyed a lecture from Dragon's Tayle member Gordon Hamilton who has been working tirelessly to discover more about J. Ledall and it was a fascinating insight into his subject and also the process of research. Andy Taylor then brought us full circle with an engaging lecture on Meyer. Goodbyes were exchanged, trains were caught and the hardier members of the group retired to the pub for a hard earned drink or twelve.
I cannot praise the weekend enough. Throughout Sunday we were fencing in the 15th century surrounds of the York Guildhall which has to be one of the most sublime settings to fence in, however what really made the weekend so special was the hard work of everyone who contributed, be it by giving a lecture or lesson, or by overseeing proceedings and organising the get-together in the first place. Special thanks to Payson Muller (the brains behind the operation), Bob Brooks, Steve Thurston, Andy Taylor, James Elmslie and Gordon Hamilton for their time, patience and expertise, and to everyone who attended for being such a splendid group of individuals.
I'm reliably informed that Fechtschule York will be returning in 2013 and if you get the chance to attend I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Hotspur School of Defence: http://www.hotspur.org.uk
Dragon's Tayle, an English School of Defence: http://www.swordfightnortheast.co.uk/
Stork's Beak School of Historic Swordsmanship: http://www.storksbeak.co.uk/