Welcome to Rumwoldstow

Rumwoldstow is a historic reenactment / living history project based around a fictional Anglo-Saxon monastery dedicated to our local saint Rumwold. At the project’s heart are a cloister, garden and orchard located near Banbury which represent an early tenth century monastery in miniature. We’re setting up a local reenactment group for crafts, living history and roleplaying. If you live nearby and are interested in getting involved, please contact the Dark Ages Society.

In our story, Rumwoldstow was refounded in 916 AD on the site of an earlier minster that was sacked by Vikings, perhaps in 914 AD. We are tracking the tenth century against modern years, so 2016 AD corresponds to 916 AD in the story of Rumwoldstow. We plan to build up resources to describe Rumwoldstow and its history, such as a founding charter and monastic rule.

In our story, Rumwoldstow is a monastery of women. The Anglo-Saxons used the word ‘monastery’ or ‘minster’ for for establishments of both men and women; they did not use the word ‘nunnery’. Please note that we welcome people of any gender – there are priests, craftspeople and lay folk as well as nuns at Rumwoldstow. If you’re more interested in the Vikings than Anglo-Saxons, that’s fine too; there was a strong Viking presence in Mercia at this time and it’s very much part of our story.

Latest posts from Rumwoldstow

  • The gatehouse roof is complete

    And oh my, I think it looks amazing! It’s authentish, rather than authentic, as is the entire project – as this is a private project in our back garden, practicality and planning restrictions have taken priority. But it is sturdy, and I think beautiful.

    Detail of the roof’s ridge
    Looking south along Green Street
  • Tiles and pears

    The Uvedale St Germain pear is supposed to produce extra-large fruit that keep well and must be cooked. Sadly, despite flowering well this year, and setting quite a few fruits, only one made it to anything like maturity, and I realised that its branch had broken so picked it as it wasn’t going to get any better. This is our first “warden” pear!

    One lone warden pear
    Not as large as expected, presumably because the branch was broken
    Ignore the apple pieces, they’re from the Bramley in the main garden. The pear, halved. It was tasty.
    Late-set fruit on the Uvedale St Germain pear

    After losing most of its fruit early in the season, the Uvedale St Germain pear surprised me by flowering again, I think it was in June or something ridiculous. I assumed that there would be no pollination partners but amazingly, several fruits have set! They are much smaller than the spring fruits. I am leaving them to see if they develop into anything edible.

    Al spent the week laying tiles, nailing them to the battens and then cementing the edges. Yes, this is not how the Anglo-Saxons did it, but we are working to modern building regs and I think the overall effect is good enough. It should be waterproof, which is honestly our main priority!

    Metal clips, a modern requirement to help prevent the tiles from lifting up in the wind. Al really REALLY does not want to have to redo this job!
  • Membrane

    The second guard room has had its floor laid, and Al has been hard at work laying breathable membrane over the roof boards.

    The two little windows on the south side are constructed in a classic Anglo-Saxon style – arches made from straight pieces.
    After much deliberation, these red clay tiles were chosen. The pitch of the roof is shallow as required by permitted development (to fit eaves height and other restrictions), and these tiles are both low in profile and rated to be waterproof at this pitch.
    Battens and counter-battens
  • The west guardroom floor
    Brother Julian, assisted by our friend Taras
    Sadly this is not my garden! This is the new Anglo-Saxon garden at Butser Ancient Farm, outside their super new longhall, showing Abbess Cyneswithe on tour.
  • Tiling begins
    Part way through boarding the roof
    Sorting out the tiles, which turned out to be manufactured in two batches with noticeably different sizes
    A shady spot on a hot day
    A new use for an old cement mixer…the dismantled drum somewhat resembles a font or giant chalice, but will probably be repurposed as an industrial-chic barbecue