It’s a big day in the Shire of Mount Hope. Queen Elizabeth I has come for her coronation
The queen has a soft spot for Mount Hope and always enjoys visiting the tiny hamlet.
Now you’d think she might choose London for her big day, but the young princess, who is only 25, has chosen the shire and aren’t you lucky, because you’re invited to watch the festivities.
They run every Saturday and Sunday for the next 12 weeks.
It is 1558 and Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, who enjoyed Mount Hope as well, has been dead for 11 years. (He looked so healthy in the last five years as he oversaw the Renaissance Faire, didn’t he?).
Her half-brother, Edward, died at 15 and her half-sister, Mary recently died after five bloody years on the throne , during which, the country was torn apart.
Can Elizabeth bring England together?
“She is unsure of what is going to happen because there is division in the country,” says Mary Huff, who is playing the queen. “She is trying to connect with the people.
“All of her advisors are men. They are respectful, but they treat her like she doesn’t know what she is doing and she doesn’t,” Huff says.
Advisors include Sir William Cecil, chief of her privy council who is almost like a father figure. Her cousin, Sir Henry Carey has strong doubts about her strength as a ruler and Robert Dudley, her best friend, leading statesman and suitor.
”They pressure her to get married,” Huff says. “But her advisors have to go toe to toe with her, “Huff says. She is not interested in a husband.
“The woman who comes to Mount Hope will change her arc over the course of the day,” says Arthur Rowan, one of the directors of the Ren Faire and the writer of the script.
She will arrive a princess and leave a queen.
“There is a physical element to her change,” Huff says. “The outfit helps with my posture, the corset straps me in.”
If that sounds uncomfortable, especially in the heat of August, don’t worry. A new invention called air conditioning will be available to the Queen and all the players at the faire. It’s located in hidden spots along with cold water encased in something called plastic bottles.
“Given the choice between heat and rain, we’ll take the heat,” Rowan says.
The Queen will arrive at court at 11:30 a.m. During the afternoon, the Human Chess match will be held, Elizabeth will proceed across the grounds to the joust and then the coronation ceremony will be held at the end of the day.
As momentous as the coronation is, plenty more will be going on in the shire during the day.
“We want to make Mount Hope a living and breathing village,” says Rowan. “It’s very much filled with colorful characters . You can follow the court around all day if you want, or you can wander the streets and and watch the villagers leading their lives in a very engaging and interesting way.”
You’ll meet wenches, rogues, singing minstrels, washer ladies, mud beggars and musicians, all ready to chat with you.
One of the big issues in the shire is the feud between the Hopfield family and the Tanningrove family.
“The families have hated each other for decades,” Rowan says. The Mayor of the town asks the queen to help resolve the land dispute. New land has come to the (shire) and both families feel they have the right to it.”
The young Elizabeth asks her advisors what she should do.
“They tell her to decide through a human chess match,” Rowan says. “That is the formula we use. The challenge is how do we find the story elements but make them fresh.”
The Hopfields and the Tanningroves are one of those elements.
The Hopfields are beer makers, the Tanningrove wine makers. Libations from both families will be available throughout the faire. Just beware, what you order to drink puts you on one side or the other.
“We have our own beer and wine and cider and now our own distillery,” says Candace Smith, sales and communications director at Mount Hope. “There are nine pour houses throughout the grounds. “
A lowly apprentice glovemaker named William Shakespeare has submitted a play to be performed in the queen’s honor. It’s called “Romeo and Juliet” and it will indeed be performed.
(Please ignore the fact that Shakespeare was not born for six more years and that “Romeo and Juliet” was originally published 1595, 37 years after the festivities taking place at Mount Hope.)
The Royal Falconer returns with his birds of prey. Archery demonstrations, a dungeon museum and a maze will add to the day’s festivities.
And the mud beggars have a brand new mud pit.
“The pit is next to a stunt stage, so they can do high falls from the second story,” Rowan says.
Merchants will be offering demonstrations, including a glass blower, and an herbalist and apothecary will cure your woes. Blacksmith will offer swords and shields and you can even find Renaissance costuming for sale.
And don’t forget the food.
More than 20 stands will be located throughout the faire.
“We have the infamous turkey legs,” Smith says. “But now they have their own stands, Just Legges One and Just Legges Two. We learned what people really want.”
Other dishes range from pho to hamburgers to German food.
And tell your best friends that they can come to the Renaissance Faire, too.
Dog will be welcome through the entire season. Forms must be filled out and dog owners must follow the dog decrees, which are available on the faire’s website. If all is in order, your dog can receive a season pass. After all, it is said Elizabeth had small dogs that went everywhere with her.