John Sadler’s Time Bandits – Back at Chillingham Castle on Friday 14th April 2023
‘For any who called himself a gentleman, a slight to his honour merited only one response, a challenge to the opponent. Failure to respond was the loss of reputation and the certainty of being branded a coward or a scoundrel. From Troy to Dodge City, swords then firearms were the arbiters, a glorious death was infinitely preferable to the ignominy of lasting shame. For the sake of honour alone, thousands died. We’ll be demonstrating the duelling code, the weaponry employed and the etiquette involved, as well as recreating some famous, or perhaps notorious duels. Our Northumbrian ancestors fought many: One of the most notorious encounters between gentlemen of the better sort took place by the old White Cross on Newgate Street. The ‘feid’ (feud) or vendetta was a long established Northumbrian and border custom; John Fenwick of Rock and Ferdinando Forster of Bamburgh were both men of substance, the latter being an MP. Both were guests at a grand jury luncheon held in the Black Horse Inn on Newgate Street. A drink fuelled altercation followed, each seemingly encouraged by the raucous company. Next morning, when heads should have cleared and blood should have cooled, a chance encounter sparked a resumption of verbal abuse followed by swords. Both men were skilled at arms and for a while the blades bickered and parried without hurt. Forster suddenly lost his balance, slipped and stumbled; his enraged opponent delivered a killing stroke. The victorious duellist in these cases was caught, tried and hanged. The White Cross and Black Horse Inn are long gone, though Forster’s impressive tomb survives in the chancel of Bamburgh church. As ever, Time Bandits will bring history to life, (and death)’.