See re-creations of TWO battles from the War of the Roses.
Barnet. Famous as a terminus of the Northern line; and widely deployed as a slang term for haircuts. But it's got some proper serious history going on, too.
A throne was won on Barnet's lofty slopes. It was here, on Easter Sunday 1471, that Edward of York saw off the Lancastrian forces, all but securing his future as Edward IV. The Battle of Barnet is seen as one of the most important battles of medieval England, and it happened right here, within what is now Greater London's borders.
Every year, the good citizens of Barnet put on a big shindig to celebrate their manor's momentous past. The 2023 Barnet Medieval Festival takes place on 10-11 June and promises to be bigger and better than ever. For one thing, it comes with a bonus melee. As well as a bloodless re-creation of the Battle of Barnet, you can steer your charger towards a mock Second Battle of St Albans — a confrontation that took place 10 miles away, and 10 years before the clash at Barnet.
Sadly, though perhaps wisely, the battles won't rage throughout the town, nor the prime battle site in Hadley Green. Instead the action takes place at Byng Road playing fields to the north-west of Barnet.
As well as the choreographed swordplay, you can also watch demonstrations by gunners, archers and mounted knights as they go about their chivalrous business. Plus, a medieval fashion show, live music, craft demonstrations, a display of battle paintings, medieval music and non-medieval food and drink.
Although the main action is in a recreation ground, a walk through central Barnet will also turn up plenty of nods to the battle. Look out for the 90-or-so medieval banners, fitted to lamp posts and hanging in the Spires shopping centre. The pennants were created by volunteers at the Museum of Barnet, and are based on the heraldic devices used by combatants in the battle.
The main event is organised by the Barnet Medieval Festival Committee. Tickets are available on the gate or in advance at £6 for adults, £2 for children. Parking is available but limited. While you're in the area, check out the whalebone arch, or go hunting for fairy doors.