The Copper Bolt fixed in the wall of Axmouth church…
THERE WERE PLENTY OF DEVONIANS at the Battle of Agincourt. They were led by Sir John Chichester of Pilton, Sheriff of the county, (that’s his shield, inset) together with other knights from the shire and countless numbers of their followers.
So how should we precious few, descendants of that illustrious band of brothers best mark Ocober 25th, this year, 600 years to the day since our great victory over the French on St. Crispian’s Day, 1415?
Well, look around you and see where the entente cordiale has brought us over the intervening centuries. Today no fewer than 93 towns and villages in Devonshire are twinned with French counterparts. How many of them sell us cheese we have no way of knowing, although the French claim to make over one thousand varieties – whilst Devonshire can boast barely a dozen cheese producers.
Cheese and toast
Henry V’s army, on the way back home via their historic walkabout through Picardy and Normandy almost certainly liberated copious amounts of fromage and cidre along the way, but shouldn’t we make it a point to mark this day by standing on a chair in a public place with a slab of Devonshire cheddar in one hand and a flagon of Devonshire cider in the other, reciting Henry’s speech before the battle?
Feast your neighbours
THIS DAY IS CALLED THE FEAST OF CRISPIAN: He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, And rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
This story shall the good man teach his son, And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember’d; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed, Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
*To arms, Devon! Reach for your cheese!