Friday 6 May 2011

Bosworth - the alternative to the royal wedding

In 1981 I'd avoided the TV coverage of the royal wedding and taken myself off somewhere. So to keep up my traditional response to such events, I spent last Friday at the new Bosworth Battlefield Centre. I say new, as it was actually upgraded and re-opened a couple of years ago and although it's less than an hours travel from my front door I'd not visited yet.

As I expected it wasn't busy (!). Little from the original exhibitions appears to have been retained - although for those of you who have been before those excellent 'Action Man' size figures dressed in finely made armour are still there (but I'm afraid I forgot to take photos of them). The centre is now more 'hands on' and interactive, as is the approach these days. Information is provided in many different formats; one being short films of charcters, some actual some fictional, played by actors in contemporary dress who, at the touch of a button, share their feelings and thoughts about the events before and after the battle.

The political events of the Wars of the Roses are briefly covered, as they relate to the lead up to Bosworth battle. Medieval life and warfare are also portrayed; plenty of reproduction weapons, artifacts and armour are on display. Theres also extensive use of the excellent colour illustrations from related Osprey books, those by Gerry Embleton and Graham Turner. These are displayed overized and it's amazing how impressive they still look at a much bigger size. There's replica armour to try on and an interactive task of arming a knight, even using the option of French terminolgy for the pieces. The battle has an audio commentary, supported by film of re-enactors and an animated display of the main movements of the forces of Henry, Richard and the Stanleys. There is then a considerable amount of space given over to the Tudors (all of them), which I suppose is probably as this is the main point of referecence for most visitors and particularly school children who study them.

The highlight for me were the rooms which covered the archeological project undertaken in the last few years on the battlefield site, which has resulted in the finds and the likely relocation of the battlefield site towards Dadlington, rather than Ambion Hill where the Centre is. This is covered in some depth and all the finds appear to be on display there, including the artillery shot, the boar badge and other metal items.

Outside the centre there is an established walk, which is currenly being upgraded and which is due to complete in 'Spring 2011' - anytime now really. The walk covers the old traditional site on Ambion Hill (possibly still where the royal army encamped on the night before the battle) but it takes you away from the revised site somewhat, through Ambion Wood and past 'Richard's well'. A new sundial and viewing point is under construction, which will give a vista across towards Dadlington and the revised battle site, but as this is about 2 miles away you only get a slight sense of the battlefield layout.

Overall it's a high quality museum and succeeds in giving a very accessible understanding of the battle and wars, indeed it's won a recent award as best small museum. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours there and my only disappointment was that the shop didn't stock boxes of Perry plastics, so I couldn't use my Battlefield Trust discount to increase my stockpile - Nick at North Star should take note of a sales opportunity!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, not had chance to get to Bosworth, Looks like it's worth a visit.


Phil Robinson said...

Yes thanks for the post, have not been since the children were little. Just up the A5 for me too, so I will have to pop along again at some point.

Stuart said...

Nice one Simon, I commend your resourcefulness!

The mannequin in the blue brigandine is a decent mock up of an almost identical illustration in the Osprey english medieval knight 1400-1500.

Bosworth is an excellent museum, easy to get to and there are a couple of decent country gastropubs on the approach road.

The cafe there is also quite impressive, good sandwiches and you can share them in the shadow of a mannequin in full german harness.

I particularly liked the 'sallet eye view' features on the wall of the battle room.

ha ha, just read that again and it is true my main concerns in life are beer, armour and sandwiches-in that order ! i'm sure i'm not alone.