The English Tribute to Azincourt Presentation 2017 was an exciting three days of events on 3 battlefield sites attended by five local Mayors
The first archer in the trilogy is finished at last and it was taken to Azincourt to publicise the project and raise funding for the remaining two figures.
Preparations for the Trip
A van was hired and a special podium made for display, Dan Billany and Richard Biddle came as companions and drivers. All preparations made for our visit were to correspond with a holiday weekend in France organised very ably by good friend and archer of La Mesnie 1415, Patrick Fenet and his wife Marie- José, with whom we stayed at their magnificent maison de maître.
Mayor of Beverley Sends Greetings
Before the figure left for France the Mayor of Beverley, Mrs Ann Willis and Town Clerk, Helen Watson, came to wish him au ravior, letters were brought for the Mayors of the villages around the battlefield and the Mayor of Crecy together with plaques of the Beverley Coat of Arms and charmingly, Forget- me- not plants to establish a living link between us.
Beverley has the link with Azincourt of St John of Beverley whose standard was carried into battle, it being believed to be successful as it was for King Aethelstan at Brunanburh in the year 937
The battle of Azincourt took place on the day of the feast of St Johns translation, 25th October, and King Henry dedicated the miracle of the victory to St John. Later in1421 he came on pilgrimage to Beverley with his new bride, Catherine of Valois, daughter of the defeated French King Charles V1 to give homage at the tomb of St John. He presented a war axe used at the battle to the people of Holderness.
Art Display in Hesdin
On Friday evening we visited an art display in the ancient town of Hesdin where the traders who have premises vacant, allow artists to put on exhibitions of their work and the results of this are that the town is buzzing and the standard of work is very high with waiting lists of up to 2 years,
On Saturday morning we dressed as archers of the time and took the Tribute Figure to stand in the same place on the battlefield where King Henry, after the battle, looked around and asked where are we? The reply of, that is the castle of Azincourt over there Sire, led him to declare that henceforth this battle shall be known as the battle of Agincourt. (an English mis-spelling). Had he been able to see any other landmark, the name could have been different.
This prominent site is owned by Patrick and Marie- José and in the French way, wine and refreshments were prepared by Marie José and the ladies of La Mesnie 1415, the wine served is special in the area and infused with herbs, as is the delicious shortbread type cake.
Placing the figure onto the battlefield
The English Archer figure was positioned orientated towards the French lines, with the archers stakes prominent and surrounded by both English and French battle standards.
The figure was covered with the French flag and fleur de lys in the interests of camaraderie, and was unveiled by Marie- José to the Mayors of the four villages and the Vicomte de Bucamp, Monsieur Eric de Chabot.
It was very significant that the villages were represented by the Mayors and with the President of the Office for Tourism in the 7 Valleys Monsieur Alain Barbier present too, theTribute figure and principle of it being so situated was well received.
Volley of arrows shot across the battlefield
Archers in full regalia from both English and French sides shot volleys of arrows in a fitting tribute to all those who lost their lives in the battle, before moving on to the Musee de Azincourt for a buffet prepared by the ladies of La Mesnie 1415.
I spoke at some length with the Vicomte as he and his cousin, the Vicomte de Tramecourt, Monsieur Robert de Chabot, knew and played host to Robert Hardy and drove him and the decendant of Lord Camoys on the 25 th October 2015
The Vicomte also appreciated Roberts support for the condemnation of plans to erect a windfarm on the battle site which was subsequently rejected largely thanks to that intervention strengthening his case.
Presentation in Musee de Azincourt
In the evening, O.H. Boyd gave a presentation in the magnificent banqueting hall of the Musee de Azincourt. This hall, attached to the main museum is superbly equipped and a fabulous venue for such events.
The Sculpture of the English Archer was placed alongside a display of 4 smaller sculptures representing the “Nestroque”sequence and portraits of Robert Hardy and Mark Stretton,
Again the Mayors of the four villages attended and after a description and explanation of the rationale of the work, translated by Patrick, I made formal presentation of the letters from the Mayor of Beverley plus the coats of arms and the flowers. This was very well received and the possibility of developing closer relationships with the Town of Beverley was keenly discussed. The Mayor of Azincourt, Monsieur Nicolas expressed that he would very much like to visit Beverley and the tomb of St John when he visited next year.
After a personal tour and explanation of the work to the dignitaries and an interesting question time the ceremony was concluded.
Visit to Hesdin
Sunday was a visit with the English Archer figure to the medieval town of Hesdin and a display was unveiled on the square of the fish market by the side of the river and at a prominent junction where it is hoped that a memorial to the dead of the battles can be erected as part of the tourism initiative.
That day there was a display of artists work in the streets, so it fitted very well the event. We met the premier adjoint of the Hesdin’s council,Monsieur Lozinguez,and the organizer of the event:the artist painter named Domé. An excellent lunch was provided by the Patron of the restaurant ”la Belle Epoque” at that place and an enjoyable time was had with many members of the public taking an interest in the work and project, many questions were asked and answered.
Visit to Crecy
We then upped stakes, (this term comes from the battle of Azincourt) and went to another reception and unveiling at the museum in Crecy where an invited and interested crowd of visitors and sightseers had gathered.
We were received and welcomed in Crecy by Monsieur Franck Bouchez together with Monsieur Marmousez new curator of the Musee de Crecy and I renewed my acquaintance with Monsieur Bouchez as we had shot together previously on the site of the battle, he is an archer too. I was presented with a plan of the battlefield and a commemorative mug to mark the occasion.
Importantly the Mayor of Azincourt, Monsieur Nicolas et Odile Poclet attended the ceremony with his wife who unveiled the work. The enthusiasm for the project was very encouraging and gratifying and this will help with the development of tourism for the area.
The town of Crecy has now bought the battlefield and plan to develop this as a focus for various activities, not just the medieval re enactments and fairs but for cyclists and walkers to explore and enjoy the armies routes and significant places for the battle as well as covering some beautiful countryside. A new museum is to be built and I was invited to attend the opening ceremony in March or April next year which I look forward to very much indeed.
Tour of the Region
Monday was a tour of the region organised by Monsieur Alain Barbier, President of the Office for Tourism for the 7 Valleys.
The tour began by meeting at a new gîte complex where a the large contingent of people involved in the development of the tourist trade including gîte owners, businessmen, farmers, interested parties and traders proceeded to various venues to see the diversity of places and activities in the area.
These included a goat farm that made the most excellent award winning goat cheeses, these we had sampled the day before at the reception in the Musee de Azincourt. This farm near Framecourt is run by Monsieur Franck Lesay and his son Antoine, Antoine is an archer too and we shot together the previous year.
Commanderie d’Hospitaliers in Warmin
We had to speed on ahead to position the Sculpture of the Archer at la Commanderie d’Hospitaliers in Wamin which dates back to the 13th century and the original room was set up with a re-creation of the Knight Hospitalier tending the wounded; this in the very place it happened after the battle of Azincourt.
The Sculpture figure was set up together with the Death Arrow carving of the archer at full draw and a display of portraits. A demonstration of woodcarving with associated tools was also set up next to the ancient tools found in the buildings.The venue, little changed since those times was perfectly fitting for the occasion,
After introductory speeches by the lady owner Madame de Montigny and the President of the Office for Tourism for the 7 Valleys Alain Barbier, Madame de Montigny and Marie- José unveiled the figure and much interest was shown in the way this project draws together not only the Azincourt battlefield villages but the whole area.
An interesting and informative day as showcase for the area but importantly it showed the enthusiasm, vision for the future and determination to bring this scheme to a successful completion. A special thanks from me to everyone, our group was made to feel so welcome and a party to everything, the hospitality was outstanding.
Copyright : OH Boyd 21 September 2017