Charging atop a beast twice your size into a 10-foot pole is a challenge, but in the 30-degree heat, wearing a full suit of body armour, carrying your own weapon and silk banners to boot, it could be mad to try.
The Knights of Middle England’s jousting tournament, hosted at the Wimbledon Guild Fair on Saturday June 17, offers revellers a glimpse in to a bygone era.
“The Black Knight, who shall remain nameless, and Count Ashby de la Zouche – they cheat, they pillage the land,” says Sir Robert Holmes, Knight of Middle England.
“Every tournament we go to they’re cheating and causing mayhem everywhere they go.”
Four knights duke it out for the glory and honour.
The Earl of Wimbledon, the Red Knight thinks of himself as strong and sturdy – the safe bet.
Sir Robert Holmes, the Red and Blue Knight is chivalrous, fair, a role model for aspiring knights everywhere.
Ashby de la Zouche, the Yellow Knight, is unorthodox, unpredictable – the wild card.
And lastly, the embodiment of darkness – the unnamed Black Knight.
Asked about his chances of felling the dreaded Black Knight, Sir Robert said: “It depends on the day, but normally we manage to get the upper hand. Good prevails.
“I feel I have a good, strong jousting arm, and I know the Earl of Wimbledon is more than ready and capable.”
Lord Wimbledon and Sir Robert represent the axis of good in the tournament.
Smug and cocksure, The Black Knight, Sir Robert’s Rival, swans around the training camp atop his horse, savouring the battle to come.
“Good luck,” says a young boy to the villain.
“I don’t need luck,” says the Black Knight.
“The forces of darkness: It is an alluring side to go to,” says Sir Robert, “but I’d say that in the end, you will lose, and it’s not a happy place to be, rotting in a dungeon.”
The knights cantered out into the arena where the tournament would take place, crashing into each other atop their steeds.
I asked Sir Robert what advice he would give to aspiring knights. He said: “Keep training, eat well, but train train train.
“You need to be nice and gymnastic, nice and athletic, it’s all about strength.
“You need your core strength because when you’re on your horse and you take a big knock, you need to be able to bring yourself back up, because if you come off, you lose your armour, you lose your horse, and then where are you?”
I cheer for Sir Robert. My younger self might’ve fancied himself a Black Knight, but as the adjudicator announced the results, Sir Robert’s warning to young knights tempted by darkness rang in my head, and I left as satisfied as I was sunburnt.
In 4th place: The Yellow Knight, The Dragon Knight
In 3rd place: The Blue Knight, Sir Robert Holmes
In 2nd place: The Black Knight
In 1st place: The Earl of Wimbledon
“Today has been about honour,” says the announcer.
“About chivalry. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world right now, ladies and gentleman, and in London especially.
“Stay strong, support each other – that’s what community and England is all about.”