THE SEALED KNOT
The Society of Roundheads and Cavaliers
The Sealed Knot, the society of Cavaliers and Roundheads, has become a British institution since its formation in 1968 by the late Brigadier Peter Young DSO, MC, FSA.
Back in February 1968 Brigadier Peter Young and a group of friends, following a garden party in cavalier costume to publicise the launch of Peter Young’s book on the Battle of Edgehill, came up with the idea of forming a period army – an idea that soon took off and within two years there were more than one thousand members of this Royalist Army. Now, we have recently had our 50th birthday. With the early addition of the army of Parliament and later the Army of Ireland and Scotland, our membership has grown to make us the biggest society in Europe. The aims of the Society are not to glorify war, but to honour those that died in the many battles of the English Civil War, and to educate the public about those wars, and also about the lives and times of people in that period.
Its spectacular recreation of battles, sieges and skirmishes of the English Civil War has been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people, and it has helped raise over £1,000,000 for charity. Apart from these larger scale events, individual members of the Sealed Knot also give fun but educational talks for schools, colleges and other organisations.
The membership is drawn from all walks of life and every part of the UK, from the far north of Scotland to the tip of Cornwall. We also have members from across Europe and even as far as the United States. Most summer weekends will see the society in action, whether at a major muster or regimental display at a country house or castle.
The Sealed Knot was originally the name given to a secret Royalist organisation which, in the 1650s, worked for the restoration of the monarch with little success. It took its name from the chain on the Order of the Garter that links sealed knots with Tudor roses.
However, the present Sealed Knot is far from being a secret or political society and comprises both Roundheads and Cavaliers. It is run on the lines of two seventeenth century armies and members are organised into regiments largely on a geographical basis.
Almost all the uniforms, leatherwork, weaponry and armour are made by traders within the society or by members themselves, and are based on original patterns. Over the years, the relentless quest for authenticity has not only improved the Knot's standard of presentation but has also led to a wealth of research into the period, shedding new light on the armies of the seventeenth century.
Where possible, the Sealed Knot endeavours to recreate battles on their original sites. Most of the major battles of the civil wars have been staged including Edgehill, Naseby and Marston Moor. Other notable events include the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations at Windsor and forays into Europe and the United States.
Like the armies of the civil wars, the Sealed Knot retires to winter quarters. October to March is a time for regimental get-togethers, banquets and social events. For many the Knot is a year-round source of comradeship and enjoyment. After a few years it becomes a way of life, combining a unique blend of living history, physical excitement and damn good fun.