Sonnets & Swords – Royal Day Out at Audley End House and Gardens

09:02 18 May 2014

Queen Elizabeth I rides in the Grand Parade at the Festival of History, Kelmarsh Hall. Picture: N & A Unwin/

Queen Elizabeth I rides in the Grand Parade at the Festival of History, Kelmarsh Hall. Picture: N & A Unwin/

© N & A Unwin/Spiderwoodimages. All Rights Reserved

English Heritage is asking visitors to Audley End House and Gardens this May bank holiday weekend to prepare their bow and perfect their curtsey in preparation for a visit by Queen Elizabeth 1.

The year is 1571 and the Duke of Norfolk will be welcoming her royal highness to this exquisite Essex estate. Visitors can join her loyal followers and learn the rules of courtly etiquette, marvel at the thrilling theatrical delights and witness the skill of the Elizabethan riding displays.

A day packed full of events, the Queen will join families to witness the variety of entertainment that a colourful array of Elizabethan characters have to offer.

Visitors can stand in awe as the sword-master gives a lesson on the noble art of swordplay and witness the argument between the English and Italian theory of fencing, before deciding for themselves whether it is the cut or thrust that reigns supreme.

Looking resplendent as they ride – Elizabethan gentry will be taking a look at how the horse was celebrated in literature of the day, ahead of the arrival of Queen Elizabeth herself on horseback as she prepares to address her adoring public on the Croquet Lawn.

During the afternoon visitors can witness ‘The Horse and Hawk’ and discover how Elizabethan gentlemen hunted from horseback, whilst watched by their Ladies. This will also be accompanied throughout the day with fascinating displays of falconry.

For those looking to fasten the pace, there will be a thrilling competition where riders display their prowess in equestrian games of the time culminating in the Basket of Arms where riders compete to see who will win the prize for the most food caught. A chance for families to choose and cheer on their champions!

Visitors can visit the living history encampment and take in the sights, sounds and smells of everyday life, as well as taking a trip to the Elizabethan Stable Yard. For younger loyal followers, there is plenty to keep them entertained too, with have-a-go sword school, junior jousting, interactive Shakespeare and even a children’s re-enactment battle of the Armada.

This event promises to be entertainment fit for a queen!

‘Sonnets & Swords: Elizabeth at Audley’ runs on Sunday and Monday (May 25 & 26) from 10am-6pm.

Tickets can be purchased online, or from the Ticket Sales Team on 0870 333 1183 (Mon–Fri 8.30am – 5.30pm, Sat 9am–5pm). Tickets will also be available to purchase at the site on the day.

Prices: Adult - £17; Concession - £15.30; Child - £10.20; Family - £44.20 (Member discounts apply)

Visit for details.


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