Loxwood Joust: Hang your baby on the wall and beat a bit of sense into your son in Medieval England

Girls enjoying a previous Loxwood Joust
Girls enjoying a previous Loxwood Joust

The Loxwood Joust opens on Saturday (August 5), kicking off two weekends of Medieval mayhem.

Loxwood Meadow will be transformed into a battle arena and living history village, making it a fun-packed day for the whole family.

As part of the build-up, organisers have compiled a series of fascinating facts about Medieval times.

Here, the Medieval housewife shares 10 things you didn’t know about children living in Medieval England.

- Tiny babies would be swaddled in long linen strips, wrapped in a warm woollen blanket and then more linen strips would bind the baby to a board. The board had a rope hanger which went over pegs high up on the wall and there the baby could hang, seeing everything that went on around it but safely out of harm’s way.

- High chairs, dummies and baby-walkers were medieval inventions.

- Godparents at a child’s christening were called ‘gossips’. The word was originally ‘God-sibs’ i.e. brothers and sisters (siblings) in God. When a mother-to-be went into labour, friends and relations would wait outside the bedroom door, to be on hand in case the baby was weak and unlikely to survive, to serve as godparents in an emergency. Sometimes, they had such a long wait, they ran out of good conversation and ‘gossiped’ instead.

- Godparents weren’t only required to see to the child’s religious education; they were to guard it from the twin perils of fire and water too. For little girls, the coroner’s records show that going to the well or river to fetch water was one of the most common causes of accidental death for female children, when they fell in and drowned.

For boys helping their fathers on the land, using sharp farming tools seems to have been especially hazardous.

- Discipline was thought to be very important and it was believed that only a good beating could teach a young child right from wrong and respect for their elders.

- One very good thing was that everyone: parents, godparents, family, servants, apprentices, neighbours and even passers-by, were all expected to take responsibility for a child’s wellbeing and safety. Life was hazardous but everybody looked out for the children.

- At the age of seven, a noble lad was usually sent to serve as a page boy in some other lord’s household. He would be taught reading, riding, manners, dancing, music and, most importantly, begin training to be an esquire or henchman to the lord. After that, he would learn hunting, practise with weapons and learn to wear armour, ready to become a knight.

- Girls too would often leave home quite young to work as serving maids in a relative’s household to learn all they would need to know when they married.

- Sometimes, around the age of fourteen, both boys and girls could be signed up to serve apprenticeships for about seven years although, for girls there was sometimes a clause in the indenture (contract) to allow them to ‘drop out’, if they received a good offer of marriage.

Loxwood Joust is open August 5&6 and 12&13. For more details and to book tickets visit www.loxwoodjoust.co.uk