Tabulae Ltd

Happening History

Hands-on Medieval displays for schools and historic sites

Contact Information

Contact Name:
Karen Hamilton-Viall






Happening History provide displays on many aspects of medieval life. All our displays are interactive and hands on. Imagine letting your visitors try on armour, take part in a trial, make Best Fake Watches butter or flour or make a medicine, and much more. We can provide displays on many aspects of medieval life. Whether it's interactive timed talks or just passing trade you want. From ages 5 to 105 we have displays that will delight, entertain and educate all.

Food & Feasting in Medieval England:

Our cook tempts your visitors senses by cooking up some favourite medieval dishes and enlightens them with fabulous facts about food in medieval England. Visitors young and old can have a go at making butter as their ancestors would have done in our plunge churns. This display is run for passing trade throughout the day. We set up a mouthwatering display with lots of medieval food and drink. We can cook medieval food over the fire and the smells will be irresistable! Whether it's the ubiquitous pottage, a glass of spiced hippocras or medieval gingerbread we're making, the public are endlessly fascinated. This display works particularly well combined with our milling display as visitors can make their own flour, their own butter, make the dough and see it being baked off on the fire and follow the process through from beginning to end, which is a great learning experience for kids and adults alike. The fire is in a firebox on legs 18 inches off the ground and a bucket of water, fire blanket and extinguishers are kept to hand as a precautionary measure. Little aprons are provided for little people (as shown) to help keep their clothes clean whilst making butter. There will be a small additional charge for this display to cover the cost of cream (for the butter), food, charcoal etc, which will vary depending on how many days you are hiring us for.

Medieval Clothes:

We offer your visitors, young & old, male & female, the chance to try on medieval clothes of every status from the well to do down to the humble peasant. This display is run for passing trade throughout the day and always has a queue! Clothes in the medieval period were quite different to the clothes we wear today. There were no jeans, t-shirts or trainers. No Gucci, Adidas or branded clothing. Cotton was not used to make clothing and there were no man made fabrics like polyester. Clothes were largely made from wool, silk, velvet, linen or perhaps the fabulous cloth of gold. All clothes took a great deal of time to make as everything was hand made and many people might only own one or two sets of clothes. Peasants clothes In the 15thC a poor persons clothes would be made of wool and linen. A linen undergarment was worn first, either a shirt for men or a shift for ladies (which resembles a night gown). On top of this a woman wore a dress called a kirtle, men wore tight trousers called hose and a jacket called a doublet which would hold up the hose. Both sexes wore a belt and pouch (to keep all their bits and pieces in as there were no pockets). Hats were worn often in medieval times, especially by women. Hats kept you warm in Winter and kept the sun off your head in the Summer. There is also some indication in the bible that women especially covered their heads for religious reasons. Most lower class ladies hats would simply be made from linen. The Well to do The clothes of the rich lords, ladies and merchants were essentially the same as those for the lower classes but would have been made of much finer fabrics. Silk and velvet were both expensive fabrics in medieval times. They may even have been made from cloth of gold (a fabric woven with real gold thread). But many sumptuary laws were bought in by various Kings to stop the wealthy being too ostentatious. Fur would have been used to trim their garments. Fine jewels and gold embroidery would have bedecked their clothes and hats. Clothes were often cut to waste material so a rich person could show off how wealthy they were. They would have been a marvellous spectacle to behold. Many express surprise at how comfortable they find the clothing and ladies of every age love trying on the dresses and hats.

The Medieval Knight:

This display comprises a timed talk on the arming of the knight, a demonstration on medieval weapons and in between, assisting members of the public to try on the vast range of armour. Some of it specially made for little people. Sir Thomas is a 15th C knight preparing for battle. Sir Thomas's Squire dresses the knight for combat in his armour, whilst Sir Thomas reveals how and why it was worn. If willing, a parent may also have a go at arming their son/daughter in the child sized armour, whilst following Sir Thomas's instructions. Often the closest most people will get to armour is behind a glass case in a museum. Even at a re-enactment event they may not be able to try the armour on. It's most peoples dream as a kid to try on real armour and hold a sword and with this display their dreams can come true but in a safe & controlled environment. Imagine giving them the opportunity to actually wear armour or hold a sword! We have early armour such as maille from 1066 right up to brigandines and the full plate armour of the 15thC, in a variety of sizes. All our armour is made to a safe standard with rolled edges and the swords are blunt edged re-enactment swords. Giuseppe Zanotti Shoes Outlet

Crime & Punishment:

Let the trials commence!: Crime and punishment in medieval times was often a painful and unjust experience. Happening Historys Sheriff transports your visitors back to Medieval England where he puts them on trial for their crimes and through some of the punishments! The sheriff expects all visitors to turn up for trials or they will be outlawed! This display is run as timed trials 3 or 4 times a day and in between visitors are invited to try out some of the various items such as stocks, pillories and manacles for themselves! Trial by Ordeal After a brief explanation of medieval law, the Sheriff begins the trials, such as that of Eleanor the Alewife who has been letting her hens roost above her mash, which has made some of her customers very ill indeed! If the jury (the audience) can not decide her guilt, she will be made to undergo trial by fire, where, after fasting for 3 days & nights, she must carry a hot iron bar. Her poor burnt hands are then bandaged for 3 days. If after 3 days they are healing cleanly God has proved her innocent, if they are blistered and full of pus then she is guilty! Will she be guilty or will she be innocent!? If found guilty, then she can be punished! There is also trial by water, combat and sacrament. Branding Stop thief! Our thief is found guilty of stealing something worth less than a shilling, and this being his first offence he will be branded with the hot iron. An F for Felon is burnt into the palm of his hand for all to see that he is not to be trusted. If he is caught stealing again, he will have his hand cut off. If he steals again, his neck will stretch! Tom the unfortunate homeless person is also branded with a V for vagabond or vagrant, as vagrancy was a crime at this time. Heresy & the trial of Sir John Oldcastle (Lord Cobham) We also see on trial the infamous Sir John Oldcastle, who is proclaimed a heretic for his beliefs. Although no longer a crime in modern day England, Sir John believed amongst other ideas that the bible should be in English and that the wine and bread of the sacrament were purely symbolic. He would not recant his beliefs and was destined to be wrapped in chains and dangled over a fire till he burnt to death. Medieval people liked the punishment to fit the crime and they believed his execution was symbolic of what would happen to him in the afterlife. Scolds beware! We hope that all the mums and dads in the audience are happily married as the sheriff also has a scolds bridal suitable for nagging wives. It was a crime to scold your husband in the medieval and Tudor period and husbands could quite legally drag their wives around town in this horrible contraption. The scolds bridal has a tongue depressor which would stop any tongue from wagging!

Animal Trials:

We also see some more unusual trials as our Sheriff is required to conduct the trial of some animals, including the trial of a pig which has killed and eaten a human child. Not only did the pig commit murder it ate flesh on a Friday, a fish day! Animal trials were very common in medieval England, especially for pigs which lived in close proximity to humans. Pigs are omnivorous and there are many recorded cases of them being put on trial. Animals did not have a soul so it was not the animal itself which was put on trial but the devil within it. The punishment for such a crime was very likely to be that the pig would be roasted alive! We have lots of replica punishment items including stocks, pillories, manacles (foot, neck and hand), scolds bridal, thumbscrews and brands! Some of which will be used in the trials.