RETRO: All right on the knight

Jousting'The Marcher Lords at Monk Bretton Priory - May 1988
Jousting'The Marcher Lords at Monk Bretton Priory - May 1988
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FORGET football, rugby or cricket, here’s a proper sport if ever there was one.

Jousting was the kind of ferocious, full-blooded activity enjoyed in Medieval England which makes games today look like they’ve gone health and safety mad.

Jousting'Escafeld Medieval Society Jousting Contest at the Porter District Licensed Victuallers Ladies Committee Gala in aid of charity at Skew Hill Farm, Grenoside.  The 'Marshall of England' (right) goes into action against one of the evil knights after the White Knight is felled by foul means by the Black Knight - all part of the realistic jousting tournament - 22nd June 1975

Jousting'Escafeld Medieval Society Jousting Contest at the Porter District Licensed Victuallers Ladies Committee Gala in aid of charity at Skew Hill Farm, Grenoside. The 'Marshall of England' (right) goes into action against one of the evil knights after the White Knight is felled by foul means by the Black Knight - all part of the realistic jousting tournament - 22nd June 1975

Frankly, if it doesn’t feature two hairy men on horseback charging at each other at 30mph with the risk of broken bones for the loser can you really call it spectator entertainment? Probably not.

Jousting was so popular because the stakes were so high. The winner almost certainly got the maiden and the mead.

The loser almost certainly got gangrene from his untreatable wounds. Them’s the breaks. Literally.

Over the last 40 years it’s been somewhat different, of course.

Jousting'Escafeld Medieval Society Jousting Contest at the Porter District Licensed Victuallers Ladies Committee Gala in aid of charity at Skew Hill Farm, Grenoside.  Action packed afternoon as the Knights in full armour hack and slash at each other with their swords, axes and maces - 22nd June 1975

Jousting'Escafeld Medieval Society Jousting Contest at the Porter District Licensed Victuallers Ladies Committee Gala in aid of charity at Skew Hill Farm, Grenoside. Action packed afternoon as the Knights in full armour hack and slash at each other with their swords, axes and maces - 22nd June 1975

Except for a small group of American men who practice something called Full Metal Jousting - a real, if more protected, version of the mediaeval sport - jousting is now a theatrical event.

And such performances - full of colour, character and crucially, no chance of severed arteries - have been held here in South Yorkshire ever since the Seventies. Today, continuing the Tuesday Retro A-Z series of hobbies loved in our region, we bring you: J is for Jousting.

Events in our region have regularly been held at Monk Bretton Priory, Grenoside and Bolsover Castle.

“Jousting shows are great fun to watch,” says history student Sam Green, a fan and regular attendee, of Meersbrook. “It combines history, horses and hairy men pretending to be from another age. If you don’t enjoy that, then there’s something wrong with you.”

The reconstructions may be safer than their historic competitions but, it seems, they’re still pulling in the crowds.