Monday, 2 May 2011

News - Here's a blast from the past (Newstead Abbey)

THE Napoleonic Wars were brought back to life at Newstead Abbey at the weekend.

The Napoleonic Association staged a re-enactment which revived the military life, tactics and battles of the period.

Around 250 people donned the uniforms of British Redcoats and their French counterparts, watched by almost 2,000 visitors yesterday.

Katherine Playford, 35, of Chilwell, attended the festivities with her husband and two sons, aged six and four.
"This is really exciting. It's like travelling back in time," she said.

"I think it's a great teaching experience as well.

"We don't know much about that part of history, so we've learned a lot."

As part of the re-enactment, guests were able to wander through a living history camp, watch drill demonstrations, listen to short talks about the weapons and troops involved in the wars and enjoy some authentic 19th century food.

The afternoon culminated in a battlefield skirmish.

Liz Lawton, 37, travelled up from Leicestershire to take her mum, Pat Abrahams, to the event.
"My mum is a history enthusiast.

"She's read all the books and wants to know all about Baker rifles," she said.

"We've come for a day out. It's such gorgeous weather too. Events like these give kids an idea of what it used to be like. You could call them live history lessons."

Ms Abrahams, 75, of Blidworth, said: "I've had a wonderful day."

Conrad Rafique, 45, of the Wirral, near Liverpool, said he had come to visit his friends for the long bank holiday weekend.

"They just took me out here for a nice day," Mr Rafique said.

"We found out this morning that the re-enactment was going on as well.

"It's a good coincidence. I think this is absolutely fantastic. The camp is so authentic. I feel like I've travelled back in time."

Lisa Stanhope, secretary of the Napoleonic Association, had travelled up from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, where she lives.

She has been part of the association for five years.

"We are bringing history back to life so people can smell it and touch it and see what life was like in a soldier camp during 1811, when the Duke of Wellington was fighting the French in Spain," she said.

"It's all very authentic

"Members of the association come from all over the country."

She said yesterday's event was the beginning of a season of re-enactments.

"There will be one almost every weekend in different parts of the country."

Jerry Warnes, horticultural supervisor at Nottingham City Council, organised the event for the fourth year running.

"Today has been a huge success," he said. "It's better than last year, because we had a few showers then, and I hope tomorrow will be even better."

Penny Beniston, senior site manager at Newstead Abbey, said she had worked there for eight years and helped to put on the re-enactments since they started.

"This is one of my favourite things of the year," she said.

"The guys are really good and take it really seriously.

"You get a really good idea of what life was like back then."

Another re-enactment was taking place today from 11am till 4pm. Normal admission fees apply.

For more information call 01623 455 900.

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