Two Score Gentles in a Cowshed Bare... the first Adamestor Feast

Sing me a song of a Shire so fair,
Twoscore gentles in a cowshed bare,
but the mead is flowing and we don’t care,
All in the Shire of Adamestor, O!

Reposing with the Kingdom Historian of Drachenwald is a document which gives the history of our Shire. Somewhere in its vague and labyrinthine mumblings (I’m allowed to say that, I wrote the darned thing), is the following paragraph:

"Thus is was, upon the last day of the month of May, that the First Gathering was held. And great was the smoke of the cook-fires, and long the brewing of mead. And foully was the new Shire betrayed, for the banqueting hall of our arranging was witheld from us, and instead the assembled guests were led to a benighted hut, meant only for the housing of cattle, and used by the rude artisans of the potter’s craft. Poorly did the twoscore gentles present fit themselves into the hall, and greatly was cursed the name of the perfidious landholder. Yet was there feasting, and rejoicing, and right heartily did those gentles present pledge their allegiance to the King and Queen in Drachenwald, with many loud Huzzah!s."

Two stern fighters with a rivet gun,
Not much armour, but a lot of fun,
We have an archer, so the war is won,
All in the Shire of Adamestor, O!

There were four Officers to start with. The whole thing was Blaise’s fault, he was the one who had the mad idea of dragging his chainmail out from under his bed (he’d been making it quietly on his own, the chainmail, that is, not the bed), and starting a Shire. Blaise de Clairvaux (Mark Cummins) was our first Seneschal and founding member, (now innured in the wilds of the Middle Kingdom, far from civilisation (i.e. us).) He was initially in contact with branches in the USA, but, after a brief almost-war about who claimed us, it was decided that we should be part of Drachenwald.

Mark being part of the local role-playing crowd, he had a good source of like-minded idiots, namely myself and Guntram, and shortly afterwards, Berthold. There were thus four of us busy plotting a Shire, mostly in pubs and other low dives, at the time of our first gathering.

Three recorders, nearly in tune
The Seneschal’s daughter howls at the moon,
All these babies, we’re a kingdom soon!
All in the Shire of Adamestor, O!

The four Officers proceeded to set a time and venue, and to advertise the gathering by phone, email, jungle telegraph, trained carrier mongoose and the simply expedient of grabbing friends by the scruff of the neck and telling them, “You’ll be there, or else!” We told everyone to bring something to eat and lots to drink; the Herald invented census forms, and everything seemed set.

It was a very nice hall. The one we were supposed to have, that is. It was a long, spacious room up in the attic of Montebello, the UCT artsy-crafty complex in Newlands: it’s a lovely forested estate, and the building had brick walls and wooden beams and all. Unfortunately, when the officers arrived slightly early that evening to set things up, it transpired that the maker of African musical instruments who had used the hall during the day, was still there; not only that, he had a television crew in there, filming his instruments. Estimated time of leaving the hall, not for the forseeable future.

Forty gentles arrive to dine,
Hail to the cooks, their food is fine,
This poor chicken died in lots of wine,
All in the Shire of Adamestor, O!

After our Seneschal had exploded quietly (a rare and rather terrifying occurrence), the venue’s minions started scurrying around finding alternatives. The garden was nice, but out; it was pouring with rain. (Murphy’s law). Finally they offered us something known as “the cow-shed”: it actually was a cowshed, once upon a time when Montebello was actually a farm. Now the shed was used by the local consignment of potters. Once they’d moved all the potter’s wheels, tables, claybins and other paraphernalia to the edges of the hall, there was just room for a long table, and possibly room for various gentles to sit around it, if they squashed a bit. Atmospherically, the effect was peasant rather than noble, but hey...

Guntram made umpteen bottles of mead, which may be why the gathering was a success despite its inauspicious beginnings. We heated food on a hotplate set up on a potter’s bench - necessary, given the cold and rain. Bread and butter and honey was present in plenty; Blaise’s stews were, as always, both authentic and wonderful; my chicken dish (a broth saake, as I remember) was judged to contain a fowl who perished happily of cirrhosis of the liver. Everyone was in some kind of costume, in some cases makeshift, but the effect, by candlelight, was warm and relaxed and almost medieval.

Five brave officers to run the Shire
Someone tell them that that chair’s on fire!
No small wonder that they all retire...
All in the Shire of Adamestor, O!

At that point we weren’t even Adamestor yet, of course - the Shire name came later, after several permutations and lots of arguments with heralds. (SCA lore: arguing with a herald is like mud-wrestling a pig. You get nowhere, and after a while you begin to realise that the pig is enjoying it). Our patron Titan, the giant Adamstor who sleeps under the Cape mountains, more or less arrived with the name. We also gained another officer, Sister Mairi Jean, shortly after this first event. All in all, and possibly because of the mead, things went downhill from that gathering... three years later, and ten thousand kilometres from our Kingdom, we’re almost a full Shire!

So that’s the Shire’s rather inglorious start. However, as we are fond of saying around here, there are a some pretty dramatic and important things that have come out of a lowly birth in a cowshed...

We’ve been annexed by a Northern Crown
Kingdoms squabble to the Shire’s renown,
Huzzah for the King as the drinks go down!
All in the Shire of Adamestor, O!

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