Axminster twinners enjoy a medieval fayre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:45 13 October 2015

Caroline and Nick Hilyard (right) with French hosts Jacques and  Arlette Pottier at the mediaeval  fayre in Douvres.

Caroline and Nick Hilyard (right) with French hosts Jacques and Arlette Pottier at the mediaeval fayre in Douvres.


Men in armour greeted members of Axminster Twinning Association when they crossed The Channel recently.

The mediaeval  fayre in Douvres.The mediaeval fayre in Douvres.

But it was a friendly welcome from residents at Douvres la Délivrande, who dressed in medieval costumes for their annual fayre.

The East Devon town’s party was led by Axminster twinners’ president Caroline Hillyard, accompanied by husband Nick.

Reporting on the festivities, which began with the traditional parade along the main street, she writes: “Banners fluttering in the breeze were held aloft, would-be warriors donned impressive helmets, everyone wore period costumes with great attention to detail, and people lined the street, curious and intrigued.

“In days of yore, apparently, after World War Two, this medieval parade was on a much larger scale. Always on a Saturday, it would number hundreds of people, all dressed up, and accompanied by horses and musicians. But let’s remember this was pre-digital, pre-instant everything, in an age when people had time and before health and safety legislation.

Two knights at the mediaeval  fayre in Douvres.Two knights at the mediaeval fayre in Douvres.

“Notwithstanding, there were umpteen photo calls and everyone was in a festive spirit. The organisers thought it would be fun to take the news of the day to where the people were - namely the big supermarket, Super U, on the outskirts of the town. So we traipsed another good half mile to take the news to the people who, by and large, were unimpressed or disinterested but it added a touch of colour and a small diversion to their Saturday morning shop!

“In the early afternoon, we repaired to the grounds of the Medieval ‘Baronnie’, formerly a Bishop’s Palace in the 13th century, a building that has been beautifully and painstakingly restored. It sits in a glorious meadow where new trees have been planted and here were all the activities of the day - horse rides, games, archery, stalls, ‘medieval’ drinks, entertainments, singing, the whole community coming together. Later in the evening there was food to be had, a musical show against the backdrop of the Baronnie itself being lit with magical lights, and the evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display.

Call it what you will, the French know how to do timelessness and conviviality - one hour moves seamlessly into another, irrespective of tiredness or the lack of sleep you may have experienced on the ferry going over.

“At well past midnight, under the clearest of starry skies, you felt glad to have participated in this communal ‘event’, quirky and symbolic, friendly and unique in equal measure”.

“At the Fête de la Baronnie next year, Axminster Twinning Association and their counterparts in Douvres will be running a plant exchange stall. Anyone interested in participating and coming to the event, please make contact via the details below. Anyone who has spare potted plants, please label them clearly and keep until the beginning of next September and make contact as below.”

For further information on Axminster Twinning Association, contact Caroline Hillyard, 01297 34497 or email

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