How does one visit the past from the present? You might be thinking, ah you can visit museums, watch documentaries, explore ruins etc. Yeah, that’s true enough, but those methods only allow you to VIEW the past. I’m talking about an immersive visit to the past. A chance to see it, feel it, hear it, smell it and taste it. Naw, that’d require time travellers, you think as you read these words.
Luckily I bumped into one recently.
I can’t quite remember what led me to Kindra Jones and her wide collection of historical personifications, but as I watched her take each step through human history I knew I had to track her down for a chat.
Kindra is a professional historical interpreter and re-enactor based in Norfolk. She’s brought to life sections of time stretching from the Bronze Age, Roman, Anglo Saxon eras to Medieval, Tudor, Gregorian, Victorian to WW2 and the 1960s.
What started as fencing lessons in her teen years soon led to a deep fascination for medieval armor and weaponry.
“My dissertation was on 14th century armor,” she told me over the phone.
This young woman began to wonder what to do with her history enthusiasm.
“I’ve always loved history, but I could never see myself with a traditional career in it.”
Then she found re-enactment.
“As I became involved in re-enactment the fighting skills, armor and weapons really captured me. It started out as a hobby, but I soon realised this was a perfect merging of my love of history, performing and teaching.”
Another thing she loves is the community: “In the modern day you don’t really get a sense of community. When you do this you can eat, sleep and work with your friends.”
Creating The Look
Kindra began to invest in her passion. And I mean invest.
I’m having a set of armor built for me, educating myself on 15th century fighting and learning how to ride a horse, she said.
A good suit of armor costs starts around £25,000, Kindra explained as my jaw dropped to the floor.
In the past armor was like cars today—there’s a range.
“Armor at this price would be like buying a Porsche… Mm, maybe more like a Lotus,” she chuckled.
She’s not only interested in the rough and tumble of times past though.
“I have lots of dresses too!”
She’s brought Catherine Howard (one of King Henry VIII’s wives) back from the dead in proper Tudor fashion, including lots of jewels, silks and furs.
The clothes from that period were very heavy on the shoulders, but the women weren’t expected to do much, said Kindra. She told me she’s worn three layers of heavy fabric in the summer for some of her work.
“You just have to put up with it,” she said as I expressed my shock.
“Comfort is a modern idea.”
Now she’s travelling across the country revitalizing moments throughout time. Oh, and space.
This Lady Knight has also played Catkind from Dr Who!
She’s no stranger to whimsical women either. She’s played the Christmas Fairy and the Witch at Hever Castle too.
What No Chocolate???!!
Remember my post about Castle Rising? Kindra once dug her toes into the grass and fired a 15th century medieval matchlock gun there.
Another time (haha pun intended) she participated in a Bronze Age archeological experiment. She lived in a roundhouse at Flag Fen in Peterborough, ate Bronze Age-styled cuisine and even went as far as helping hollow out a log with fire to make a boat.
While this seems like truly living in the past, Kindra said her only fully immersive historical experience was a week in Denmark in 2010 with the Company of Saynt George.
“That was a real learning experience,” she said of the time.
I Want To Try This
So, you want to be a time traveller too now huh?
There are two ways. One is to find other re-enactors.
“You find a local group, meet them and see if you get on with them.”
It’s as simple as that—no special skills necessary. Just bring along a willingness to learn.
Another way, if you have kids and want to introduce them to the fun, is to check out the Knight School being hosted at Fritton Lake Park near Norfolk.
It might be somewhat short notice, but pack your bags and head over March 28 and 29! Your kids will learn all kinds of handy tricks.
Warning: prepare for cute overload. Are you ready to receive an adorable little bow from your kid? As squires they’ll be taught the absolutely necessary skills of table manners and court etiquette.
Then, if they pass their squire lessons, the kids will get to learn the art of the sword and the code of chivalry as knights-in-training!
Translation: it only costs £5 with advanced booking (this includes the park entry fee) and £7 at the door to transform your brats—*cough* kids into polite, darling little princes and princesses.
There’s nothing as cool as receiving a certificate of completion from the local Lady Knight Kindra either!
It’s a pity the school is next weekend; my visiting little sister arrives on the 29th and could have used the lessons.
And I’d have had an excuse to join the course activities too.