The lawns are cut, the flowers are blooming and the stage is set for this bank holiday weekend as a Northumberland stately home plays host to a knights’ tournament.
Visitors to Belsay Hall will be able to witness a sporting contest with a difference as the site holds a contest for knights in armour.
An action-packed weekend of medieval sport will see 15 armoured knights, accompanied by their squires, go head to head in a series of trials of skill and strength.
Swords will be wielded, arrows launched and helmets battered as the noble combatants are put to the test in each round.
The event will also allow visitors to see living history encampments, laugh at tricks and performances by a silly jester and chat to a barber surgeon about the wounds he would have treated during battle and how he looked after soldiers on a day-to-day basis, as well as soaking up the atmosphere of the tournament.
One of the knights, from the Dawn of Chivalry re-enactment group, took a break from battle preparations to help the gardeners at Belsay ready its gardens for the big weekend.
The man beneath the helmet is Phillip Ainsley, an osteopath by day, from Hartlepool.
“Dawn of Chivalry is a group of medieval enthusiasts who travel around the north of England re-enacting battles and medieval life,” he said.
“Nearly all of us have regular day jobs, but we love to come to places like Belsay to showcase our skills.
“The chainmail and armour weigh about three stone, and the swords and shields are extremely heavy, so we have to train regularly together to make the battle scenes authentic and safe and, of course, to keep fit!
“It’s a fantastic spectacle to see, and visitors will get to experience what an authentic medieval tournament was like.”
The climax of each day is a grand melee, a free-for-all during which knights and squires join together in a bid to strike the crest from the helmets of the opposition.
The knights’ tournament runs daily between 11am to 5pm over the bank holiday weekend.
Tickets are priced at £5.40 for children and £8.10 for adults, and a family ticket costs £21.60. English Heritage members and under-fives go free.
Advance tickets can be purchased at a discounted rate at www.eng lish-heritage.org.uk/belsay.
The weekend of events marks the end of a host of summer activities at the hall, near Ogle.