Welcome, blog readers, to the Camlann Village Experience. What is Camlann Village, you ask? Well, only the quickest way to be transported back to 1376, to rural life in England. WHY would you want to experience rural life of the fourteenth century? Um, fun, obviously.
Last month my friends and I donned our warmest Renaissance gear (mind you, we go to Renaissance Faires usually in the general sweltering range of ninety to on hundred degrees, so this was no easy task) and piled in the car to head out to Carnation, WA, to the medieval living history museum known as Camlann. It’s a 501 non-profit educational corporation and it’s also the coolest place you’ll ever go. It’s also delightfully weird.
Let me preface this review by saying there is no technology of any kind allowed inside Camlann Village. This place takes itself TOTALLY SERIOUS with a capital “Thee”. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the owner felt a little twinge when patrons come in wearing glasses. That picture at the top of this post is so strange because we were literally asked to go outside to take it. In the rain. At night.
So, Camlann Village is open for various over the course of the year and their restaurant, the Bors Hede is open year round. We, however, were attending one of their choice Medieval Feasts, an event I recommend to all. This particular feast was of the Yuletide persuasion; myself and Ariana had been before but none of our friends had. Forty people sit around a large circular table set up in the basement of the restaurant to enjoy a three course meal served on trenchers – round slabs of bread used in the stead of a plate. If you eat your trencher, you’re out of luck for the remaining three courses of the meal. Also, there’s not really any silverware. I truly wish I could have taken a picture of this for you, but you’ll have to use your imagination here. Just like we’re back in the 1300’s! There was no way I was risking taking my phone out down there. I don’t for one second doubt they had some sort of medieval torture room for technological transgressions.
I would say about half the people in attendance dressed up. For the rest, there was either a costume rental area or the knowledge of sticking out like a sore thumb. No, I’m joking – it’s totally fine to not dress up, but it really does complete the experience.
The food was awesome and perfectly period appropriate. The queen of course got to taste everything first, and then dishes were passed around to her right and left after she deemed them worthy of our meal. We alternated between sawing into a whole boar, sampling strange almond puddings, and sneaking seconds of the delicious fenberry pie. My personal favorite was the almond fritters. There was spiced wine poured between each course and I found it delightfully strange as well that whole spices were given out to cleanse the palette near the end of the meal.
Of course no banquet feast is complete without a show, and the mid-course entertainment was surprisingly good. We had minstrels and storytellers and strange instruments I had never heard of before. Most of the entertainers and drink pour-ers didn’t take it quite as seriously as the guy who runs the place – but in a good way, in a “we’re all experiencing this strange thing together” kind of way. I got a few winks. Right after noticing my cup was filled to the very top. Score!
In conclusion, going to Camlann Village is one of my favorite things to do with a group of friends around the holidays. I can’t speak for everyone, but I love putting myself in vaguely strange and unusual situations, and the Yuletide Feast doesn’t disappoint. You will feel uncomfortable, you will eat things that look strange, but overall you will have an amazing night you’ll never forget. And at the end of it all, I promise, you really wont miss your phone all that much. Because strange as it is, it’s nice to just experience things every once in awhile. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some phone pics to commemorate everything I do, but I’ll have the memories of Camlann forever either way.