Magical Christmas in King Arthur´s Court

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In late October, I heard that a couple of friends of mine had bought an old property and were planning to renovate it. They were also hoping to have it ready in time to hold a Christmas party. By late November I had heard nothing and was just starting to wonder if I should accept one of the other invitations I had received.

However, the next day I opened my post and discovered a tri-folded packet with a golden faux wax seal on the front. My address was printed in ornate calligraphic script and the return address read: “King Arthur, Camelot Castle”. Inside was a formal invitation for me and a guest to attend a Magical Christmas celebration with their Majesties King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and their court. A pre printed R.S.V.P. card and envelope was included. In more plain script was the actual location, day, time and instructions to come dressed as any character from Arthurian legend (except for King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Merlin). I filled out the R.S.V.P. card that Sir Lancelot and a guest (my fiancée, Julie, who would be Morgan Le Fay) would be attending.

As we drove to the party it was not difficult to figure out which house belonged to my friends. A wooden façade of a castle portico was propped up against the wood fence to the right of the main house. A pair of men in medieval guard costumes stood on either side holding wooden halberds. I knew the party was going to be a good one when one asked me for my invitation and I replied in good humour that the face of Sir. Lancelot should be well known in Camelot and did not to need one. He smiled an apology and let us in.

The main building looked like an old-fashioned coach house that had been converted into a living space. The double barn-style doors were open and medieval chamber music came from within. Cloth coats of arms hung from the beams of the ceiling and a large table divided the room down the centre. The simple, but elegant décor and lack of other furnishings made the room look like a medieval great hall. At each head of the table were throne-like chairs. Near the wall across from the table, was an eight metre high Christmas tree. It was decorated with garlands made from acorns and real cranberries and realistic miniature bird and animal ornaments. At the top was a gorgeous medieval angel.

A quartet of musicians stood next to the blazing fireplace playing their instruments. There were plenty of costumed guests and a few servants, one of which brought us each a glass of wine in pewter goblets. There was no sign of my friends, who I assumed were playing the king and queen.

My fiancée and I chatted with some people we knew speculating about what would happen next. I was actually hoping dinner would be next and I noticed the servants unfolding a tapestry linen table cloth and setting the table; I was starving.

Half an hour later, a man carrying a heralding trumpet marched through the open doors, put the instrument to his lips and sounded a dozen notes. He lowered the trumpet and said, “His royal Majesty King Arthur and his Queen, Guinevere!” The Herald stepped just inside the door to make way. Our hosts entered the room arm in arm. He was dressed as a regal Arthur in a tunic of gold and purple brocade with gold trim and she wore a stunning gown of cream, gold and pink. Both wore crowns that looked like they had been stolen from movie studio prop house. We all bowed and curtseyed as they made their way past to the table each taking up the throne-like chairs at either end of the table. The Herald called out the namesor of each character to take their place at the table. Of course, Sir Lancelot was the first called.

Dinner was a hearty medieval feast of roast beef, ham, roast duck, carrots, leeks and asparagus, (potatoes and corn hadn't been brought over from the new world yet) and a tasty stuffing made with walnuts, cranberries and onions. The servants kept our glasses filled with ale or wine. Everything was so good; I ate so much I thought I might not be able to move.

After dinner, the guests mingled and chatted as the servants cleared away the food, dishes, tables and chairs. A juggler in a jester's costume strolled around entertaining the guests. Mulled wine, port and trays of mince pies were offered to us by the servants for dessert . I was pretty certain, since this was supposed to be a magical Christmas and we hadn't seen Merlin yet, that something else was going to happen.

A white-bearded man dressed in a black robe and pointed hat, walked in a little while later. He went directly over to King Arthur talking to him briefly. Then King Arthur announced Merlin was going to amaze us with his skill. Merlin performed a few very amazing illusions; we were all impressed.

The party went on until late. My fiancée and I had a great time and told our hosts before we left, that we would definitely come next year, and every year, to “Camelot Castle” for their Magical Christmas party.