Isle of Wight What's On Guide: Events OnTheWight

Romance, Pageantry and Mud: The Eglinton Tournament and Victorian Medievalism

Thursday 20 8.00pmApril


Quay Arts

Sea Street
Newport Harbour
Isle of Wight
PO30 5BD

01983 822490

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Romance, Pageantry and Mud: The Eglinton Tournament and Victorian Medievalism


The joust between the lord of the tournament and the knight of the red rose

The Vectis Decorative & Fine Arts Society present Romance, Pageantry and Mud: The Eglinton Tournament and Victorian Medievalism

Doors open at 6.30pm. Light suppers and bar available. Lecture starts at 8pm until 9pm. Visitors welcome £8.00

The greater part of the modern popular conception of the medieval knight comes not from the Middle Ages but from the Victorian imagination. The 1839 Eglinton Tournament was an attempt to recreate a full scale medieval tournament. It provided a legacy of an artistic and cultural movement that defined the age. Dr Tobias Capwell FSA is the Curator of Ams and Armour for the Wallace Collection. Illustration: The joust between the Knight of the Red Rose and the Lord of the Tournament, as engraved by Thomas Hodgson

Background taken from Wikipedia The Eglinton Tournament of 1839 was a re-enactment of a medieval joust and revel held in Scotland on Friday 30 August.[1] It was funded and organized by Archibald, Earl of Eglinton, and took place at Eglinton Castle in Ayrshire. The Queen of Beauty was Georgiana, Duchess of Somerset. Many distinguished visitors took part, including Prince Louis Napoleon, the future Emperor of the French. The Tournament was a deliberate act of Romanticism, and drew 100,000 spectators. It is primarily known now for the ridicule poured on it by the Whigs. Problems were caused by rainstorms. At the time views were mixed:

"Whatever opinion may be formed of the success of the Tournament, as an imitation of ancient manners and customs, we heard only one feeling of admiration expressed at the gorgeousness of the whole scene, considered only as a pageant. Even on Wednesday, when the procession was seen to the greatest possible disadvantage, the dullest eye glistened with delight as the lengthy and stately train swept into the marshalled lists".[2]

Participants had undergone regular training. The preparations, and the many works of art commissioned for or inspired by the Eglinton Tournament, had an effect on public feeling and the course of 19th-century Gothic revivalism.

Its ambition carried over to events such as the lavish Tournament of Brussels in 1905, and presaged the historical reenactments of the present. Features of the tournament were actually inspired by Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe: it was attempting "to be a living re-enactment of the literary romances".[3]

In Eglinton’s own words "I am aware of the manifold deficiencies in its exhibition — more perhaps than those who were not so deeply interested in it; I am aware that it was a very humble imitation of the scenes which my imagination had portrayed, but I have, at least, done something towards the revival of chivalry".[4]

While others made a profit, Lord Eglinton had to absorb losses.[5]

The Earl's granddaughter, Viva Montgomerie recalled in her memoirs that "he had spent most of the wealth of the estate".

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