What do you do?
It’s all about having fun.
We organise our own events, large and small. From an informal craft workshop at someone’s home, through regular Revels, to grand feasts and international gatherings. Our key focus is having fun whilst recreating arts, crafts and other skills of our period. We cover three ‘martial’ activities – armoured combat, rapier fencing, and archery. We also mount a considerable range of arts and crafts, including expert and highly skilled practitioners of costuming, calligraphy, illuminations, brewing, historical cooking, weaving, music, singing, and dancing. Locally, we sometimes gather for (non-costumed) visits to London museums and art galleries, castles and other historical sites.
How old do I have to be to join in?
You can join at any age. However, you must have a parent or guardian with you up to age 18. Our events are family-friendly, and we have many people raising their children in and around the Society in Europe.
Do I have to pay to join?
No you don’t.
However, we run events where a cost is involved, primarily in the hire of the hall or venue. These are detailed under information for that event. Typically this is about £6 for a local Revel or for a fighter practice, and anywhere from £40-£75 for a major all-inclusive weekend event.
SCA membership is the next level of involvement with the Society. While we do not have a strict “pay to play” membership policy, there are numerous benefits and advantages to be had, all for about £15 a year. To join or renew membership of the SCA officially, visit the Insuale Draconis membership portal.
Is it easy to join in without any period clothing?
Yes – let us know you are coming and we can arrange for members to loan you clothes and other necessities.
Our pub meetings and visits to museums are not in period clothes.
How much period clothing do you require?
The short answer is not much. The basic staple garment of the periods covered is the T-Tunic. With a belt and some footwear, you’re covered.
The emphasis on our group is to enjoy the experience on offer and, as with most things, what you get out of taking part is what you’re putting in. Some of our more experienced members have built up wardrobes of clothing; others are having a ball with just one outfit. We have several skilled members who will be willing to help you on your next project.
Do you visit castles in costume?
Sometimes. We have occasional costumed events at historical sites across the UK, including St Cross Hospital in Winchester, Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, Caerphilly Castle, Tretower Court and a ten-day camp in Raglan Castle. Our Welsh cousins hold some events at CADW (equivalent to English Heritage) sites. We are always looking for sites amenable to this.
What other events can you go to?
Strictly speaking, SCA is not a re-enactment group – its focus is broader than most re-enactment groups, and the SCA favours participation (being part of the event) over authenticity of clothing, encampment and weaponry. People work to the level of their enjoyment – you will see a range form the basic effort, though to museum-quality clothing.
Bear in mind that each re-enactment event will have its own rules covering participation and the authentic quality of clothing should you wish to attend in-period. The SCA requires ‘an attempt at pre-17th century clothing’ rather than a specific depiction or authenticity that will pass muster at other events.
There are plenty of historical re-enactment events across the country. We recommend www.livinghistory.co.uk as your first ports of call for such events. There is a lively trader scene in the UK, catering to all periods and tastes, which provides an extra incentive to visit.
I am already a member of another group / can I join other Living History / Re-enactment groups?
The more the merrier, we’re about the sociability and fun of pre-17th Century re-creation!
There are plenty of cultural/social overlaps and similarities between the SCA and re-enactment. We welcome other enthusiasts to join us and there is no bar to joining any other of the myriad of groups out there. We already have members from several companies and periods. The cross-fertilisation of ideas and experience will benefit everyone, particularly as we do not work as a public display group. Bear in mind though, that each group has their own operating rules on authenticity standards and combat drills.
Can I wear my glasses?
Yes. A lot of our members have glasses and therefore can advise where this becomes an issue with protective headgear. In-period eyewear is also available via certain merchants.
I am a woman: Can I fight?
Yes, women can fight in all areas of the SCA. There is no gender barrier for any Society activity. You must be 18 or over to fight, and over 14 to fence.
I don’t want to fight, what can I do? How do I learn a skill?
There are plenty of skills that are teachable in the group, from brewing to embroidery, from naalbinding to pewterwork. We hold occasional feasts that involve in-period cookery and decoration. If you have an interest, just ask.
Is your combat style authentic? Why do you use rattan and not metal weaponry?
The SCA developed its armoured combat style over the course of fifty years from a combination trial and error, eastern and western martial arts, sports science, and medieval treatises within a modern safety framework. It is a full-contact, full speed, unrehearsed combat style. The SCA style reflects this growth, and concessions to modern sensibilities: for instance, some open-faced helms have protective grilles for SCA use.
In the Middle Ages, some practice manuals, and King René of Anjou’s Book of the Tourney call for use of wooden imitation weapons. We use rattan as a safe, affordable substitute, whose weight mimics the weight of original swords and other weapons.
Rapier combat (distinct from armoured combat) does use metal blades. While it began with Olympic fencing equipment and styles, SCA rapier combat now aims to recreate the weapons and combat styles of Capofero, Agrippa, Di Grassi and other renaissance rapier masters. For a more HEMA-flavoured combat system, a third style – Cut and Thrust – is rapidly developing. It is swordplay “in the round”, ie. there is no piste. Protective gear is worn and can be provided to beginners.
What are the rules for carrying blades?
We are an organised historical recreation group. The main points to remember are that you are responsible for the security of your blade, particularly when carrying them, securely and discreetly. If you are wearing something like an eating knife/bollock dagger, etc. as part of your costume, then DO NOT wear them off-site. The law has not settled on this issue so apply a lot of common sense. Remember – an eating knife is still a knife, and not simply cutlery. It will need to be securely carried according to transportation rules.
Are you LARP?
There is no over-arching story theme; there are no pointy ears or rules to represent magic. There are no goals or quests. The only umpires are during combat in order to ensure safety. What skills and experience you earn in the SCA is by learning and doing. We have an internal hierarchy that is reflective of levels of activity, those organising it, and recognition of services and skills provided. There is a selection at higher levels by combat, but this non-historical tournament method is part of generating the pomp and splendour of a court system. Organisational roles are filled by mutual consent and voting where more than one candidate is willing to assume such a role. We have members who LARP, particularly at Empire, and we welcome LARP players to join us.
Why do you have two names?
Many members tend to adopt a medieval persona. This makes for an excellent vehicle to piece together interests within their context, as well as adding a living history touch to the skills and experiences at work within the group. By building a persona, you can explore what they would have eaten, their clothing and world outlooks.
What do all these titles mean? What should I call you?
Our basic premise is that everyone is of some form of nobility (who would be the usual caste who could access the resources for what we do), consequently the polite form of address is Milord/Milady. Knights and other Peers, Kings and Queens all have their own appropriate titles, but a simple My Lord, or My Lady is never impolite. Some people play outside of such a rank structure, and we have seen yeomen, serfs and even ecclesiastic portrayals.
Do you do public displays?
The SCA is primarily geared to personal pursuits and activities, rather than performance. We serve as our own audience, rather than performing for members of the public.
However, SCA groups do occasional public demonstrations at historical sites: for example, Ffair Rhaglan has a public audience for part of the activities.