The early days of the Sealed Knot have taken on a kind of legendary air within the modern society. It seems unreal, certainly unlikely, that so many people could come together in such a short time to celebrate history in so unique a way. From the origins in February 1968, when Brigadier Peter Young hosted a garden party in cavalier fancy dress, to 1970, 1000 members had joined the Royalist Army (I believe that there was short wait until the Parliament Army split off to manage themselves). Within the early Sealed Knot, regiments were swiftly formed and organised, all under the watchful eye of the 'Captaine-Generall' Peter Young.
Prince Rupert's Bluecoats was founded as a regiment in 1971, in Blackheath, London. At the very least, this first issue of the Bluecoat Broadsheet was issued in January 1974 and talks of the previous 2 active years since the regiment's formation - I am always happy to be corrected!
The Broadsheet, then. This appears to be a regimentally published magazine, edited by some of our first re-enactors. We were very lucky to have 5 issues of the magazine gifted to us by a former member of the regiment and they have provided a truly fascinating insight into our early days. I am not convinced that the Broadsheet was very long-lived (the last issue talks about monetry issues in publishing and I am fairly sure that Orders of the Day overtook it's purpose before long). It was compiled by Mike Gadd, a pikeman after my own heart, with Lawson Nagel as literary editor and supported by Terry Cryer.
In our 50th year as a society, we have decided to publish excerpts from these editorials and reflect on the similarities and differences between now and then.
I have started by looking at the CO's Column, which gives us an overview of the intention behind the Broadsheet, and a perspective of the Bluecoats' early days.
When Prince Rupert's Bluecoats was formed, the idea was to make it the most self-sufficient unit in the Sealed Knot and part of our plan was to produce our own Regimental Journal.
It never got off the ground then because we have always prided ourselves that whatever we do, we do well - and there was just not time to produce a good news-sheet, and give birth to a regiment.
You can imagine therefore my pleasure in writing the first CO's Column in the "Bluecoat Broadsheet".
In the two years that have passed since the P. R. B. was formed, many changes have taken place. Bluecoats have come and gone, new recruits have become veterans; we have won many honours and can justly say that we have made our mark in the Society.
Certainly we have been able to avoid the tribulations which have bedevilled some others in terms of ideological disputes and breakaway groups; and I am as sure as you that the continued loyalty of the Bluecoats to the black, white and gold colours is largely due to the fact that we are always in touch with one another, both on the muster field and off it.
I see the Broadsheet as a further link in the chain which binds us all together; a way of exchanging ideas and a source of enjoyment to the members of the finest regiment that ever espoused the King's Cause.
I give you a double toast to herald our third year of campaigning:
Prince Rupert - the truest cavalier of his time.
The Bluecoats - which served him so well.
So what do we learn? Our CO at the time, Trevor Kingsley-Curry, certainly had a way with words for one - the best commanding officers are the ones that can think of a decent toast!
I think we also get an idea of just how difficult 'the birth of a regiment' was to organise. Agreeing on a collective ethos for a project is tricky at the best of times, not least when investing money into a new hobby. We learn of the propensity for early regiments to splinter along these lines, forming sub-groups and different identities. Certainly at the start of the Society, when so many historical regiments were left untouched, it would have been tempting to go and form your own company after a disagreement.
We also see what Kingsley-Curry considered to be PRB's greatest strength - communicating with each other. In many ways the regiment is the same now. Our success comes from our being in constant touch with each other, through a number of different means. For some of us, the regiment is, quite literally, our family. For others the regiment is a circle of very close compatriots. Either way, that closeness is at the core of continued success over our 44 years.
In many ways, I would like to continue the ideas first expressed by the regiment in the Bluecoat Broadsheet - serving as yet another link in the chain that binds us, another opportunity to share ideas and bring in new people to share in that experience. By delving into the wide array of historical and current stories to tell, I think that should be an achievable goal.
Until next time.