Medieval Days returning to Hancock later this month

by Geoff Fox

Saturday, September 24, and Sunday, September 25, Hancock will be taking a step back in time as Sir Geoffrey’s group, La Belle Compagnie, will be returning to Joseph Hancock Park as part of the Harvest Festival. The event will be open to the public from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days.

La Belle Compagnie will be returning to Hancock as part of the Hancock Medieval Days on Saturday, September 24, and Sunday, September 25.
pictures courtesy Thomas Taylor

La Belle represents the time period between the 100 Years War between England and France, but there will also be a Viking group, Irish warriors, a Squires Camp, Greek Hoplites, and other groups with various presentations, said Thomas Taylor.

Njörðr’s Wanderers is an evidenced-based living history group and will bring their portrayal of the various peoples and cultures one would encounter in an emerging trade town, and give demonstrations of different crafts, including wood, metal, leather and textile work to Hancock. They portray peoples and merchants from Scandinavia, Frankia, and around the British Isles.

This will be the sixth year the group has come to Hancock. Because of COVID, La Belle didn’t come to Hancock in 2020. They returned in 2021 since it was an outside event.

Each year, the company does four to six monthly meetings where they do not dress out and two “gathers” a year to work on larger group projects and present research, Taylor said.

Along with several different groups presenting, Taylor said the timeframe would also be broadening.

While the La Belle Compagnie is the medieval period with the 100 Years War, Taylor said there would be earlier times to put the medieval period in context, such as Ancient Greek warriors.

When La Belle comes to town, Taylor said it takes anywhere from an hour to six hours for set up to be ready the public.

“The larger groups with tents and a large amount of physical infrastructure can take four to six hours,” Taylor said noting smaller groups can be ready in an hour.

You also have the people presenting the living history.

Taylor said, depending on the character, the gentry needs more time than the peasantry to get dressed.

“A peasant can throw on a tunic and be out in five minutes,” he said. “A wealthy lady may take up to an hour, especially if she has an elaborate headdress or hair style.”

Putting on amor also varies for time.

Taylor said an archer could don a helmet, grab a sword, and rush off with a bow almost instantly. A knight, on the other hand, takes “quite some time” to have squires harness the knight into his armor.

Taylor added there would be a food demonstration by the re-enactors, however they are unable to sell or serve the public.

La Belle Compagnie is an IRS-recognized 501(c )(3) non-profit public charity dedicated to teaching medieval history.

The members come from all walks of life and all ages. It’s their mission to engage and educate adults, youth, and children in exciting and inventive ways.

One of the group’s favorite demonstrations at the Hancock Medieval Days were in the genesis of the yearly event and continues to support the event as a co-sponsor.

Taylor said in a passage about the group, “We have been pleased to team with the Town of Hancock, Main Street Hancock, and Hancock in Motion for several years in the past, for this year, and hopefully, for many years to come.”

La Belle Compagnie was founded over three decades ago and is now one of the best-known medieval living history groups in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The company originally became interested in Hancock when one of their members, Taylor, purchased the old Hancock Bank Building on West Main Street.

Centered in the Mid-Atlantic with good access to the interstate, Hancock is a good location to house their artifact-intensive collection of medieval gear such as period tents, tables, clothing, weapons, hunting equipment, armor, helmets, and a wide range of other equipment.

There is hope to anchor the organization in Hancock by creating a permanent meeting location here.

With a permanent home in Hancock, La Belle Compagnie would be able to cement their ties to the town.

While La Belle Compagnie does not anticipate hiring directly, the non-profit organization does provide indirect benefits by attracting new and repeat visitors to the town.

Those visitors are a direct economic benefit, as they would be customers at for-profit ventures in town.

La Belle Compagnie’s presence would also contribute to the ongoing revitalization of Hancock’s Town Center.

The non-profit would join other non-profits, such as Martha’s House, as well as for-profit entities such as a ceramics studio, a retail consortium, a chiropractor, a tax accountant, a land agent, a gym, an ice cream shop, a florist, and others along a revitalized Main Street.