The Battle of Barnet was one of the significant engagements during the Wars of the Roses, and the festival is the first major event organised by the Battle of Barnet Project, which is backed by a £98,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
One side of the High Street will display 13 coats of arms from the Yorkists and the other side 13 from the Lancastrians.
Some of the banners, all painted by volunteers at Barnet Museum, are already on display in the Waitrose hall at the Spires shopping centre, and the organisers hope to have banners hanging from lamp standards along the High Street for the two weeks leading up to the festival.
Over the two days of the festival, re-enactors from the Medieval Siege Society and other members of the Wars of the Roses Federation, dressed in armour and the livery of the Lancastrians and Yorkists, will take part in stage combat, give archery displays and fight mock battle scenes with handguns and cannons.
Up to 60 medieval tents will be erected – split into four encampments – complete with flags and banners and there will be living history displays of food preparation, cooking and other camp activities.
The festival will open at 10am each day and close to visitors at 4.30pm. Admission is free.
The official opening will be on the Saturday, at 11am, by the Deputy Lieutenant of Barnet, Martin Russell.
A packed programme follows, with the same timings on each day, and a range of activities that will capture the imagination and recreate the life and times, as well as the conflicts, of the Wars of Roses.
Children will be encouraged to take part in a series of events including face painting and a treasure trail.
The battlefield area for the re-enactments will be taped off for safety, and the highlights will be:
- 12noon: Second Battle of St Albans (1461).
- 1pm: Meet King Edward IV in the king’s tent -- a re-enactor from the Medieval Siege Society, dressed in armour and livery, who will be ready to answer questions.
- 1.30pm: Medieval lunch time – find out what people ate at the medieval encampment.
- 2pm: Medieval firepower display with cannon, hand guns and archery.
- 2.30pm: Preparing for battle – watch as knights and men-at-arms put on their armour and equipment at the medieval encampment.
- 3pm: Musical history tour by the Trouvere followed by muster for battle as the two sides parade the battlefield.
- 3.30pm. Battle of Barnet (1471).
The event co-ordinator for the Barnet Medieval Festival is Howard Giles, who has spent the last 40 years directing historical and commemorative events, and who is anxious to ensure the Battle of Barnet gets the commemoration it deserves.
“I love organising battle re-enactments and commemorative displays and the setting for Barnet’s medieval festival couldn’t be better as it is so close to the likely scene of the Battle of Barnet and gives a real sense of what the area around must have been like.”
Mr Giles says the organising team are looking forward to welcoming a large number of visitors to what will be “a colourful and exciting free-admission festival”, but they do recommend that as many as possible come by foot as there are limited parking facilities.