About The Medieval Banquet
We are quite excited here at the medieval banquet; we even seem to have our own ghost!
Sir John, as we have affectionately called him, has been spotted in the Bay of Hanover, the dining area opposite the bar.
Of course over the last millennium ground levels in the area have changed quite a lot so he has been observed hovering a couple of feet off the ground looking like he is standing on a chair, changing a lightbulb in one of our chandeliers. One of our bar staff looked up and thought she was seeing John our handyman doing just that… until he vanished! We like to think he is one of the Original Portsoken Knights and hence we have affectionately named him Sir John, in John’s honour.
The Medieval Banquet is close to celebrating its 40th birthday and over the years many figures, apparitions and torsos have been sighted gracing our banqueting halls and bays. Some of our staff have been here over 30 years and the tales they could tell… keep your eyes/senses open when you come for a visit.
A thousand years ago the Middle Ages was taking place, right here, beneath your very feet!
When our knights courageously take to the banquet floor and battle it is not just for your entertainment! It is also in some part to re-enact our history here, the heritage of our location; a homage to the Guild of the Knights of Portsoken who, as far back as a millennium ago were battling on this very spot for honour, for exercise and for the entertainment of the king.
In around the middle of the 10th century ‘King Edgar the peaceful’ (d. AD975) granted to thirteen knights in his retinue a soke (parcel of land) in exchange for services rendered to the crown, namely regular jousting tournaments.
Before the land was granted legend has it that the knights were asked to perform three deeds to demonstrate their worth; one above the ground, one below the ground and one in the water.
The Normans continued to respect and uphold the charter of the English Knightengelda then in 1120 the knights’ descendants gifted the land to the Priory of the Holy Trinity and a hospital was erected on the site.
This hospital was dedicated to St Katharine, a fourth century saint who was martyred by the Roman emperor Maximinus. Due to be put to death on the torture wheel it shattered when she touched it (the work of angels it was claimed) but this didn’t save her from her fate, instead he had her beheaded.
She was particularly influential in the Middle-ages with her saint day celebrated on 25th November but her memory has been better transmitted to us today by the firework wheels which bare her name in honour of her death.
The Medieval Banquet is situated in the beautiful location of Ivory House in St Katherine Dock which is named after the hospital sited here 900 years ago and named after St Katharine.