(L to R) Dr James Pearce, Rory G as Hereward, Prof' David Roffe, Gemma Parker, David Maile.
An Evening Remembering Hereward
The WakeHereward Project returned to Bourne, purported to be Hereward's hometown, on Saturday 15th April, with an exciting line-up that entertained and informed a capacity audience at the Old Town Hall. The event was arranged in order to raise funds for the Bourne Town Hall Trust's renovation project which it duly helped to do, with over £600 being raised to help the upkeep of such a fine building which has been standing for over 200 years, yet was in a sad state of disrepair five years ago when some keen and energetic souls set out to bring a huge part of Bourne's heritage back to life.. Today, due to the work of a handful of volunteers it has become a thriving Arts and Entertainment venue with an eclectic mix of live events throughout the year housed in a wonderful setting complete with licensed bar. Upstairs, in what was once the local Magistrates Court they have built a theatre seating fifty people which will see more performances in the future.
It was this same theatre which was due to house the first theatrical Play to be performed by Hereward Living History, as opposed to the outside re-enactments it has established itself with, yet due to leading lady Heather Bailey contracting Corona virus in the days leading up to the event the scheduled performance of 'Hereward and Torfrida are Dead (and living in Bourne Town Hall) will now be rescheduled at a future date as part two of this event.
Instead of this the talented actor and re-enactor Rory Gibson wowed the attendees with a twenty-minute monologue about Hereward's exile and his subsequent return to Bourne, where he defended the same folk that had him exiled some years previously.
Before the Hereward performance another talented individual, seamstress Mia Hansson, was displaying her epic replica of the Bayeux Tapestry which she has been embroidering for over six years. Followed by a talk on her work, Mia has already completed over forty metres of the sixty nine metre length tapestry and is expected to finish within the next five years.
Adding period music to the evening was yet another top-rated talented performer Gemma Parker, a Medievalist who performs tunes on the traditional Anglo-Saxon stringed instrument, the lyre. Gemma, known as The Dark Bardess, has mastered an instrument that has baffled people for years on how it was actually played at the time. Performing traditional folk tunes, Anglo-Saxon and Norse songs, and sometimes singing in the Norse (Viking) dialect, Gemma has also written songs about Hereward, which were received warmly by the audience each time she played.
Three Historians made up the core of the event, with Dr James Pearce holding the evening together and showing his vast experience of international conferences, introducing performer and participant alike. While David Maile of the WakeHereward Project spoke of the ongoing success of the project and how and why he began the project.
Professor David Roffe spoke of Hereward's connections to Bourne. Professor Roffe's work 'Hereward the Wake and the Barony of Bourne' was at the vanguard of Hereward historical revisionism in the mid-1990's and paved the way for other historians to look again at the Hereward legend. The resulting work helped drag Hereward out of the misty world of legend and folklore into historical authenticity. It was these academic texts that David Maile then presented to a wider audience, via social media and public presentations, during the past eighteen years that he has now worked on the project 'to raise the profile of Hereward the Wake'.
Professor David Roffe as the key speaker delivered 'Will the real Hereward please stand up'
Gemma Parker, 'The Dark Bardess' performed songs and tunes on the Lyre including Hereward ballads
Mia Hansson displayed her Bayeux Tapestry replica and spoke of the challenges in undertaking such an epic project