Monday, August 16, 2010

Bringing the past closer

click photo to enlarge
A couple of weeks ago I pulled over by the side of the road near Horncastle in Lincolnshire, and read an information board that is sited there. It explained that on the nearby fields on 11th October 1643, during the English Civil War, the Battle of Winceby was fought.The Parliamentary forces were led by the Earl of Manchester, Edward Montagu, with Oliver Cromwell as his second in command. Sir William Widdrington commanded the Royalists, with Sir John Henderson and William Saville. Each side had a force of about 3,000 mounted men. Through a combination of Cromwell's better tactics and confusion over orders among the Royalists the battle resulted in a decisive victory for the Parliamentarians. Widdrington's force lost in the region of 300 men killed and around 800 taken prisoner, whilst Cromwell suffered about 20 killed. The battle was a significant action in the sequence of events that resulted in Lincolnshire being wrested from the Royalists.

As we looked at the battlefield and its sign I commented that 1643 wasn't too long ago. That isn't a remark that I could have made in my teenage years or even in my twenties or thirties. However, it has been my experience that advancing years and an increasing knowledge of history has given me a more informed overview of the years between then and now, and this "joining of the dots" has brought those relatively remote times closer. As I watched the re-enactment of Civil War skirmishes performed by The Tower Hamlets Trayned Bands at Tattershall Castle, and during my walk around their faithfully re-constructed encampment, I wondered if the years contracted in a similar way for these "actors". Does inhabiting the seventeenth century for many weekends of the year bring that time closer? I imagine it does. Today's photograph shows one of the women who were particpating in the re-enactment. With other women and a group of children she was explaining about the domestic duties and implements of the Civil War period.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On