Town is turning medieval for the royal wedding day

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton

TRADITIONALISTS may be celebrating the forthcoming royal wedding with a street party, or by settling down with a cup of tea served in a commemorative mug.

But here in Hastings plans are afoot for a unique way of marking the occasion.

Roger Crouch, the man behind Pirate Day, is busy organising a medieval royal pageant for Friday, April 29 – complete with battling knights in shining armour, roasting hogs and a roaming King Henry VIII.

Together with the Old Town Traders Association, Priory Meadow shopping centre and the town centre management team, Mr Crouch has put together an entire day of activities - with the emphasis being on fun for all the family.

As he explained to the Observer: “The whole country will be doing things to celebrate the wedding but Hastings wouldn’t be Hastings if we didn’t do things a little differently.

“We are going to turn the town into a medieval court – complete with knights, jesters, musicians and dancers and, just like on Pirate Day, we want local people to come along in fancy dress to join in a grand parade.”

Pirate Day, a now annual event started up by Mr Crouch two years ago, has become a popular fixture on the town’s calendar, with locals really taking it to their hearts.

Last year, more than 6,000 people headed to the seafront dressed as sea dogs to help the town break the Guinness World Record for most pirates ever in one place – smashing the previous best.

And Mr Crouch is hoping for a similarly enthusiastic reaction to his latest plan.

“It really is going to be something the whole town can join in with,” he said. “Children, parents, grandparents – there will be something for all of them and, importantly, it will be free.

“People can come down, see the stuntmen put on sword fighting demonstrations, mingle with knights in armour and enjoy the entertainment and it won’t cost them a penny.”

There will be collection buckets doing the rounds, with proceeds going to local good causes, and there will be charges for refreshments – including old English ale, but Mr Crouch says Merry England Day, as he is calling it, is a cheap alternative to the large-scale battle re-enactments which take place elsewhere in 1066 Country.

Taking place on the first day of the May Day Bank Holiday weekend – which also includes the ever-popular Jack-in-the-Green celebrations – Mr Crouch believes the day will get the holiday off to a brilliant start – and could do wonders for the town’s reputation.

“Hastings is a great place,” Mr Crouch said.

“Anyone visiting that weekend will leave in no doubt how unique this town is.

“We will have things running from 11am until 4pm – so people can even stay at home and watch the wedding and walk into town afterwards to join in the fun.

“Pirate Day was a huge success. Hopefully this will go just as well.”

n For a full line-up of events, see the Observer on April 22.