Battle debut is joust the ticket for Thrapston woman

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.
Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

A Thrapston woman will charge into action this weekend when she makes her jousting debut.

Lisa Dixon has officially joined the English Heritage Joust Team and will take part in her maiden medieval performance at Audley End House and Gardens near Saffron Walden in Essex.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

The 29-year-old will carry and balance a 5kg lance and hurtle towards her opponents at speeds of about 15mph on her trusty steed, nine-year-old skewbald stallion Sparks, as her rivals attempt to unsaddle her with a whack.

She will take part in the legendary round table joust which re-creates a real tournament that took place in 1252 on the site where Audley End House and Gardens now stands.

Back then knights from across England met in a round table tournament, named after the legendary court of Camelot in what was meant to be a friendly contest of skill and derring-do, with the knights using only blunt weapons. But by the end of one ‘friendly’ clash, a knight lay dead with his throat ripped open – and with a fully-sharpened spear sticking out of the fatal wound.

Tomorrow and Sunday (July 27 and 28) Lisa and the other knights taking part will be tested to the limit as they charge at each other, lances at the ready at breathtaking speeds.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Playing the role of the Wild Man, Lisa expects to live up to her name as she joins three other knights to face knights from foreign lands and fight with lance and sword in the biggest English Heritage tournament of the year so far. She will be jousting at other English Heritage sites throughout the country during the summer.

She has been taught to joust by Dominic Sewell who runs Historic Equitation from his stables at nearby Sudborough and is director of the English Heritage Joust Team, as well as supplying horses and riders for a host of their other ridden events.

Lisa, who works as a trainer for horses, said: “I originally took Sparks to Dominic for a weekend of classical riding lessons two years ago.

“But as well as dressage, we did some work with sword and lance and I was bitten by the historical bug immediately.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

"Sparks will be quite a bit smaller than the other horses at the weekend.

"But what he lacks in speed and stature, he makes up for in bravery and enthusiasm. Nothing fazes him.”

Nothing fazes Lisa either and she says she has never been scared, even when she took her first hit with a lance. Her partner Clive Hart will find out just how determined Lisa is on Saturday when she jousts against him. He portrays the knight Lancelot at the tournament.

Lisa is hoping people from Northamptonshire will come to cheer her on.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Lisa Dixon is preparing for her joust debut. Picture by Alison Bagley.

Away from the jousting action visitors will also be able to discover the sights, sounds and smells of medieval life in a medieval encampment – complete with merry music, 13th Century cooking and crafts, a joking jester and the chance to watch the knights at close hand as they prepare for the joust.

Budding young knights can try their hand at some junior jousting or squire training. There will also be 13th Century foot combat displays and medieval falconry to enjoy.

Admission on the day is £21 for adults, £12.60 for children aged five to 17, £18.90 for concessions and £54.90 for a family ticket (two adults and up to three children).