Lots of Changes – Some Good, Some Not

It’s been a rather changeable year, one way and another, and I apologise to everyone affected by the fallout.

We lost our venue at Onley Grounds, and our replacement at Kettering couldn’t find us dates that would work in a crowded calendar. Then I made a mistake with the dates for the South East Market at Ashford, compounded when the replacement dates being held for me got taken by a horse-related show.

On the plus-side, I am waiting on confirmation from a venue which could easily hold the NLHF with a mixture of inside and outside pitches – the chairman is in favour but needs to consult with his fellow directors.

And, I have secured a brilliant venue to stage an annual re-enactment and LARP market in the South, Bursledon Brickworks Museum near Southampton – October 7th & 8th 2017, lots of inside space amongst amazing exhibits and artefacts in only remaining steam-powered Victorian Brickworks in the UK.

brick_machineAnd I am looking forward to returning to Brancepeth Castle October 22nd and 23rd 2016, and to the cleanest Equestrian Centre I have evenr seen, November 5th & 6th at Stretcholt, near Bridgwater in Somerset.

New Venue and New Dates – October 1st & 2nd

SADLY the only dates I could get at Kettering were mission impossible for many of the regular traders, and they couldn’t offer me any dates at all in the February March 2017 window – so the search is back on for a suitable venue.




After having to move from Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre, and at such short notice that we had to cancel the February 2016 market, I am delighted to be able to announce our new venue. the very impressive Arena Sports at Kettering Conference Centre. This is convenient to the A14 that links M1 to A1(M), walking distance of a mainline railway station, has proper access roads and 600 car-parking spaces on tarmac. It is inside, heated, well lit, good level access (trolley advisable), free wifi, electrical connection £10, and pitches £12 a square metre.

It is also greatly in demand for national sports events and major company conferences, so we have to take what dates we can get.

For late 2016 that is October 1st and 2nd.

At 2,000 square metres it is a bit smaller than the two Arenas at Onley, but as we cannot drive in we can have smaller aisles, and I believe we can still fit everyone in.



Lots of lovely photos from last October on Pat Patrick’s facebook page


New Faces For October

Not just the same lovely familiar faces, we are looking forward to welcoming some new friends to the National Living History Fayre this October. Carrie Ann Broomhall trading as Realms of Fae, Clare Corley t/a Sewn By Dragons, Michele Salgado-Nacke t/a Iduna Crafts, Jana Obrocnikova, Per Kelt, Rachael Reddy, Ann Ashmore t/a Spirit of the Dragonfly, Bob Thornton t/a More Mead, The Tandy Leather Company, Tracey Arnold, and Martins and Katrina t/a Trollcave Jewellery. And SPES Medieval Market are returning!! And it’s still completely FREE admission!!

spesOctober’s Saturday night entertainment will be great too, with two very different bands to enjoy. Per Kelt, and Rhythm ‘n’ Roots.


On to October!

Well, that was over far too soon in some ways, it looked truly wonderful and I was so proud of it – many thanks to the traders, who really do display their wares so that they look amazing! If I was fool enough to have a prize for the best looking stall it would be impossible to choose a winner. Lots of photographs on facebook, at our own page and also that of Pat Patrick, who takes loads of photographs and generously lets me use them! Jess from Green Wood Pictures also took photographs for me, this is such a help as not only are she and Pat excellent photographers, it saves me from a lot of work.

Smaller jess 001

Now the planning starts for October 24th & 25th – and we have Regional Markets in the North East,  North West, South East and South West  to organise as well!

It’s Looking Good!

The February 28th March & 1st NLHF is going to look pretty good! We have several new traders booked, which we are very pleased about. These include SJ Seamstress, Sartor CZ, Kail Runesmith, Handbound Costumes, Trouvere Medieval Minstrels, Clever Hands, Tomas Hruska, Green Dragon Leathercraft, History Blooms, and the House of de Lytton.

The Bifrost Guard will be staging a Viking Village inside the large Arena, please avoid being pillaged if you can!


Our band for the Saturday evening is “Greenman Rising“, who some of you will be familiar with from their rocking Tewkesbury’s Medieval Festival.


Best yet – and the BIGGEST in the UK by miles!

Awesome! October’s NLHF was fantastic, featuring a lot of new faces including Mad Hammers from the Czech Republic, Marc Muscadel from France, Kokosh from Poland, and Toad Shakos from Scotland. We also had Greenwood Photography there, and here are some of the photographs that they took for us. Lots more photographs on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NationalLivingHistoryFayre

despencer amy andrejz bavin bellinger bernie big dutch colin connor copper elf cosmic crew darius das2A few spaces are available for the February 28th / March 1st NLHF, if you would like to come and join over 140 other traders, drop me an e-mail at davidksmith56  AT gmail.com  and I will let you know if we can match your requirements and send you a booking form.

Fully Booked!!

We are completely fully booked for October 25th & 26th so far as our Indoor Arenas are concerned – subject to confirmation of a couple of bookings, and always subject to changes forced on people by circumstances, but 140 traders and no more inside space available. That’s an incredible 4,520 square metres full of traders, plus those who aill be outside, such as Matuls from Poland and Period Tents….

It is quite fantastic, 70 traders in November 2012, 125 last year, and 140 this year (so far, as we do have loads of room for more to trade outside!)

And of course, even though we are now indisputably the largest Re-enactment / LARP market in the UK, it remains FREE ADMISSION!

140 Plus Banner

All Change – NLHF Now October and February

This is the text of the e-mail I have just send out to the traders who had already booked or re-booked for March.


I’m afraid I have some bad news.

Due to a complete mix-up not of my making, we can’t stage the March NLHF at Onley Grounds, and despite making considerable efforts to find an alternative venue which could accommodate our now considerable requirements and which was remotely affordable or suitable, I can’t find an alternative.

The problem arises from the lead-time that horse-related events affiliated to the various national associations and so on require and the issues over knowing exactly when TORM will be staged, so in order going forward that this can never be an issue again, I have taken the decision to have our own fixed dates in the calendar, and ignore TORM. We are now big enough to be a huge draw in our own right, we are both by metres and number of traders the largest UK market for re-enactors, and we have the inestimable advantage of FREE ADMISSION. And the Bruntingthorpe market has for whatever reason changed it’s dates, leaving my original NLHF dates available to us, so you might say that in some respects we are “going home” to the last weekend in October and the last weekend in February each year, starting October 25th & 26th 2014.

One good thing that this does is it means that traders who otherwise could not come and join us because of their commitment to TORM can now consider whether they would like to trade at the National Living History Fayre as well – so we could welcome back several old friends!

Bookings and re-bookings for March will be carried over to October 25th & 26th, and there will be no price increases for those traders in either this year or next, as a token of appreciation and in apology for the disruption.

On the plus side, by October the building work should (all things being well!) have been completed, providing us with improved facilities at Onley Grounds, including a new cafeteria and a restaurant, more toilets, and a farm shop. Planning consent for the new road has been acquired, and although I understand that the excessively wet weather needs to improve before that can be made, it should be done for October, fingers crossed.

Please bear with me on this, it is not something I wanted to happen or that I am pleased about, it has caused me considerable trouble to try and find a way around, and I have now to believe in the decisions that I have taken and get on with making them work. Your ongoing support is obviously of primary importance in this, and I am so glad that you are re-enactment and LARP traders and not Antiques Dealers!

Best wishes – and apologies



Wow! That was AWESOME!!

I’d just like to say a huge Thank You to all of the Traders, Customers, and Participants who made the November 2013 NLHF so wonderful. And especially to my brilliant team of helpers, Roland Dreadnought Thomas, Phil The King Monteith, and Louise Monteith. The venue is a building site in part, but the investment is going to make this a seriously brilliant venue, adding a proper restaurant, new cafeteria, more toilets, office suite, lecture room, and a farm shop, plus seating area overlooking both the current Arenas and a walkway through to the Bar.

various inc Nlh 146

The Road

Okay let’s talk about the road!  This is the same as it was last November, mostly one-track with a few passing places, and prone to pot-holes. That makes it pretty similar to lots of country lanes.  Phil tells me he’ll have the pot-holes filled just prior to the NLHF, and will see what can be done to create a couple more passing places, and has suggested that he may even put staff on the road with “Stop” and “Go” signs.  For the horse shows it is not so much of an issue as all the traffic flows in in the morning and out in the evening, but both the venue and the local council want to get on with the planned new two-track road. The council are keen on this because of the proximity of the houses on the main road where the farm track joins it, because of the sight-lines and relative slowness of horse-boxes pulling out onto the main road. The venue are keen to get the road done because it is key to the huge amounts of money they are investing in the venue – new restaurant, farm shop etc. The problem has been delays caused by the planning department of the same council (isn’t bureaucracy wonderful?) quibbling over things that shouldn’t concern them, such as depth of tarmac, and insisting on a Newt Survey on fields that have been ploughed twice a year for generations FFS! Latest issue is getting sign-off from two Highways Authorities as the venue is slap on the border between Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. So, the new road is going to happen, but is not likely to be in place this November.

So drive carefully and take it slowly – the major problem last year was when someone tried to get past where they should not have tried to, and ended up partly in a ditch and causing a nice traffic jam – which the venue sorted out as quickly as they could using a tractor. The vast majority of people managed without too much difficulty, and if there were any deaths we’ve managed to hush it up very effectively!Nov2012 003Nov2012 002

There is only the ONE road – don’t go thinking that this one is only for traders…..

What A Show!

Well, I don’t know where else you could go for free to have all of the amazing things displayed for sale that are going to be at the National Living History Fayre this November 16th & 17th! Some of the finest makers of bespoke armour in the country, many leading costumers, top leather artists (can’t just call them “workers” ! ), top names from LARP as well as Re-enactment, and the suppliers who supply them with raw materials (Bernie the Bolt, Pinchmill Leathers etc). Craftsmen and women who can – it seems – make anything with anything!! Everything from armourial fridge magnets to superb wood carvings, hats, shoes, boots, arrows, crossbows, longbows, recurve bows, candles, mead, beeswax polish, jerky, jewellery, swords of many sorts, musical instruments, books, wooden furniture, medieval-style tents, pole arms, firearms, costume and accessories from Roman to Victorian…it’s quite amazing. Plus a decent fairly priced cafe with home-made food, a bar with subsidised prices, brilliant Shower and Toilet block, camping on site for traders AND for (pre-booked) customers, Spartans in a Living History Camp, an Archery Competition, A Sword Fighting Contest, Juggling Jesters (Sunday) and a Rock and Blues Band (Saturday night).

Cancellation and Refunds

Just to clarify our policy on refunds if for any reason you have to cancel your booking of a pitch. You get a 100% refund, no quibble. You will have the option to carry your booking forward if you prefer, but it will be your decision not ours. The goodwill and friendship of our traders is infinitely more important to us than a pitch fee. ( No solicitors were enriched in the formulation of this policy!)

No interest, it’s a stupid idea!!

When I was first asked to revive the NLHF I asked several people what they thought about the plan – and oddly enough the reaction was not entirely positive. However, with just over a month to go before our second Market I am delighted that we currently have 112 traders and room for a few more on the floorplan, despite allocating space for an Arena for a Sword Fighting Tournament and for a stage for Session Live to use on the Saturday night. Luckily the venue are going to be building a third even bigger Indoor Arena, because we have temporarily lost a few traders who are committed to Pontoise, and there are still some old friends who I know will want to come and join in when they are able to. And there are new traders just starting out, and friends that we have not yet met!

Blackfriars, Gloucester

I went to visit the LARP Kit Fair being staged at Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester, which was very interesting. Lovely setting! and I met some lovely people as well a some old friends….

Nearly A Year!!

Well, it’s been almost a year now since I was asked to look at the possibility of reviving the NLHF, and I am still pinching myself to ensure I’m awake and not dreaming. I am still gobsmacked at how well our first market went – the level of support from traders and customers, their tolerance over the teething difficulties… If I had to pick a particular highlight, it would be the completely wonderful way that EVERYONE concerned co-operated so that we managed to get everyone’s vehicles into the Arena for loading up after the close of play, and out again without tears, tantrums, or much at all in the way of delays or problems. Thanks!

New Trader Discount

Following our decision to postpone the March 2013 market, I was asked how that will affect our “New Trader” 50% discount, which was to have applied to the November 2012, March 2013 and November 2013 markets. I’ve given this some thought, and what I have decided is that I really like the concept of helping new traders get established, and so the 50% discount (on our already reasonable stall rents) will be a PERMANENT FEATURE of the NLHF. It will work like this: if you are a new trader (defined as starting out within one year of first booking a stall or pitch at the NLHF) then the 50% discount applies to that first market AND THE NEXT TWO markets. So you get 3 markets at a 50% discount.

With considerable regret I have decided that the next NLHF will not be in March, as we had planned, but will be in November 2013, probably (!) the 9th & 10th.

Because of the issue over the timing of confirmation of dates for March 2013, Onley Grounds EC had already accepted a firm booking for an equestrian event that requires both their Indoor Arenas.

A huge new Arena is being built, but with the ongoing wet weather, the venue can’t guarantee that they will have the new building up and ready for March.

We have explored possible ways around this involving the hire of Marquees, Portaloos, Generators, Lights, etc. but this would need to be sited in a field which is a considerable way from the Shower block and Bar and still the ongoing wet weather could lead to vehicles getting bogged down and the whole thing losing support from traders and customers.

Although giving March 2013 a miss may mean some loss of the momentum gained from having a great event in November 2012, we will benefit from the considerable improvements taking place at Onley, which should all be in place for November 2013. There will be the new road, (hopefully!) the huge new Arena (which will mean we won’t ever again have the double-booking issue), tarmac parking areas, revamped catering, and a roof over the roadway between the existing Indoor Arenas.

On a more positive note, we are currently looking at needing to use both of the Arenas because of all the bookings coming in from traders unable to be with us last time around. There is now a superb Log Burner in the Bar, and footings, kerbstones, and drains are going in around the Arena which we used in November in preparation for the resurfacing and the new road.

I am very sorry to disappoint everyone, but I want this to work in the longer term.

A Good Start!

Well, that was one amazing re-start!! Many many thanks to all the wonderful traders who supported it, and who made such a superb show with so many lovely things displayed for sale – I’m so glad I didn’t run a “Best Looking Stand” competition, I would not have been able to decide a winner. Lots of lovely photos on Facebook, I’m not going to clog this website up with them and make it slow to load.

OK, there were a few problems, much exaggerated in some quarters ( so much so they made themselves look silly!!), and nothing that we cannot work with the team at Onley Grounds Equestrian Centre to sort out  – in fact I am told that plans are already in hand for a new access road and to get the car parking area resurface. However, on the plus side, the cafe was excellent and good value, the bar was brilliant and greatly appreciated, the toilets spotless and very well equipped, and the staff friendly and helpful.

We look forward to March, when we will have a lot more traders for visitors to spend money with, including many old friends who were unable to be with us in November.

Looking Good!

Well, with less than a month to go now I have to confess I’m really delighted with the Bookings from traders! We currently have 65 traders, which is pretty good – when we set up the orginal NLHF we had just 43 at our first market, and that rose to 54 for our second one. We’re already ahead of that and if bookings keep rolling in we might even beat the 77 that were at our third NLHF.  After that at our original venue we were pushing the walls, as I was determined to keep the wide aisles and the Arena.  Running out of room is NEVER going to be a problem so far as I can envisage at Onley Grounds – they have 4,520 square metres in two Indoor Arenas and next year will be building an even bigger Arena!

I’m going to wait until early November before I list all of the traders on the website, because I know that several are waiting to see what stock they have left after the Bruntingthorpe ILHF before deciding if they can justify another market. However, there’s a lot of up-to-date information available on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NationalLivingHistoryFayre