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Council winds back the clock for Abbey Festival

Posted: 1pm 09 Jun 2021

Today’s Moreton Bay Regional Council meeting took a step back in time to celebrate the upcoming Abbey Medieval Festival.

The council chamber was transformed with standards, flags, helmets and other pageantry from the era, while Mayor Peter Flannery, chief executive officer Greg Chemello and councillors were attired in medieval costumes.

Sir Justyn Webbe, who has been teaching people about the Middle Ages for decades and is one of the longest-serving members of the Abbeystowe community, told the meeting proceedings today were not dissimilar to those of councils centuries ago.

Birth of democracy

“To the medieval eye, this sort of council meeting is not so different,” Sir Justyn says.

“In the Middle Ages many towns would have councils such as this.

“Those sorts of councils were in charge of things such as various city laws, such as where you could park your horse and cart, where you could leave rubbish, and things such as keeping streets clean.

“So you can see it hasn’t changed a whole lot.”

Sir Justyn says the Middle Ages saw the birth of democracy.

“People would elect council members such as yourselves, they would find peers from the citizenry, and they would elect people to these standing positions.

“Traditionally, there were 12 members of a medieval council and that’s not lost on us today that there’s 12 members here led by a mayor.

“That’s exactly how it was in the 14th century as well.”

Council support

Mayor Flannery says the Abbey Medieval Festival draws tourism to the region and beloved by locals and visitors.

“This is our little way for demonstrating council support for the event,” he says.

He says it is thrilling to again be able to host the largest medieval festival in the southern hemisphere and assured festival goers the event would be completely COVID safe.

“COVID's been tough on everyone, but I can’t imagine how much worse things must’ve been when an estimated 25 million people lost their lives to the ‘black death’ (1347-1352AD),” he says.

The Abbey Medieval Festival, hosted by the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, is one of Australia’s most popular living history events, giving people the chance to experience life in the Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East.

Festival director Edith Cuffe says she is elated by the enthusiasm of Council to help promote this year’s event and willingness to transform the Chambers into a medieval realm.

“Our Festival is all about experiencing the fascination of the Middle Ages in an immersive way, so seeing the council support what we do in this way is an incredible honour,” she says.

The fun starts on July 2 with a Medieval Family Fun day and continues on July 3 and 4.

Activities include a knighting ceremony, banquets, jousters, re-enactment groups and tournaments.

For more information about how to get involved, click here.

Read more local news here.

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