My Story

Medieval Mum

It was a friend’s wedding at Kenilworth Castle which prompted me to write my first medieval style poem. That, and the magnificence of the ruined Kenilworth Castle, which still has the power to amaze, even after twenty-five years worth of visits.

I grew up taking the castle for granted. We had a free residents’ pass, so often took visitors there to watch jousts and sword fighting re-enactments or just to stroll around the peaceful grounds and gardens. Visiting the ruins and seeing pictures of how the castle looked when Queen Elizabeth the First visited the Earl of Leicester, ignited my developing imagination.

My love of writing began early and continued throughout school, culminating in winning first prize in the Stratford-Upon-Avon Poetry Festival Competition at the age of eighteen. After studying literature at A Level I left Kenilworth to read Drama at university, returning to the midlands to marry and have my daughter.  For a while, life became less about poetry and more about washing up!

The last of my school friends to marry, decided on an intimate ceremony at Kenilworth Castle gatehouse, where she could enjoy a drink overlooking the wonderfully restored Elizabethan gardens.  A mutual school friend, who was now an artist, suggested that we join forces to produce an illustrated poem as a wedding gift.  Feeling a little nervous, as I hadn’t written for a while, I took on the challenge and within hours I had composed the first draft of ‘The Right Knight’, a comic poem which transformed my friend into a medieval Lady and the groom into a dashing Scottish Lord. I wasn’t expecting the response which the poem received. Lots of people at the wedding and afterwards wanted to know who had written the medieval poem. 

Before my daughter was born I had developed a chronic illness called fibromyalgia, which meant that my mobility was sometimes limited. While my daughter was a toddler it was enough just to survive each day!  However, once my daughter was at school, I became restless and fed up I really wanted to work, but my health was too erratic.

 I took a few short writing courses and began to flex my creative muscles again.  I decided to find out if anyone else was writing medieval poetry for weddings and discovered that while there were a few people writing wedding poems, mine seemed to be unique with their light-hearted medieval twist.  I also discovered that medieval weddings were becoming amazingly popular and that there were a growing number of businesses offering medieval themed entertainment and costumes.

My husband encouraged me to develop a website to promote my poems and it wasn’t long before I received my first request from a French lady whose sister was having a medieval wedding in France. I had such a great response to the poem, that I gained the confidence to trade links with other medieval websites. Further requests followed, several of which came from the United States and Canada.  I hadn't realised quite how popular medieval history was in the States and a whole new world of opportunity opened up before me. A  few medieval and Tudor Faires began to make contact with me and a lovely Canadian lady asked me to write anniversary poems for all three of her children.

I love receiving requests from different countries (the most distant so far being South Africa) but I do gain a special satisfaction when I am asked to write for couples getting married in the UK.  Generally, most of my requests here are from the family and friends of couples having a fairly luxurious castle wedding. I've written for weddings at Warwick Castle, Peckforton Castle, Ruthin Castle, Delgatie Castle and others. The poems are usually either used as a unique reading or as an alternative speech, although they have been displayed and printed onto service booklets too!

 I always feel very privileged when a bride and groom share the twists and turns of their love story with me and I try to incorporate every little anecdote and detail they tell me, into their poem. I feel an enormous sense of satisfaction when I get a positive response to my poems and it's even better when I receive pictures of the wedding after the event!

There have been times when it's gone quiet in the world of medieval poetry and I've even been tempted to give up when I've received a particularly challenging poem request, but every time that has happened, something has come my way which has encouraged me and given me that extra determination I need.  Recently, I was contacted by The Birmingham Mail newspaper and ended up having a whole page written about me in the Sunday Mercury.  I'm now beginning to receive requests which are a little broader in nature too.  This week I heard from a re-enactment company who are hosting medieval feasts and want a poem written about a particular historical event.

I have lots of ideas for the future, which include finding a calligrapher who would be prepared to offer a luxurious written version of my poems; sourcing proper scrolls to print onto and possibly joining forces with a medieval performer who would be willing to read my poems for me.

 Although my illness limits what I can do, I have a new focus in my life and a new sense of purpose. Writing poetry has also opened up opportunities to develop my writing skills and I am currently part of a small team writing for an online parenting magazine.

I still return to Kenilworth Castle when I get the chance, but now it’s my daughter’s turn to climb the steps to top of the castle; explore the dungeons and run around the grounds, letting her imagination run wild!  

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