Dunstable Tournaments

A new book about the spectacular mock battles held in Dunstable in medieval times has just been published.
Well-known illustrator Robin Davies has been working with John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society, to produce the 48-page book, titled Dunstable Tournaments.
“We think it's very unusual to try to show what medieval tournaments must have looked like,” says John. “There are lots of books with illustrations of the tournaments of later centuries, with knights jousting in single combat. But the earlier Dunstable events were much more dramatic. We've tried very hard to make the text and artwork as historically accurate as possible.”
Hundreds of armoured horsemen would travel to the town and assemble into armies to practice their fighting skills and demonstrate their bravery. The mock battles would rage for many hours over large areas of open land. The lower slopes of the hills around Dunstable would have been ideal venues.
The battles were strictly controlled and a licence issued by King Henry III in 1232 named just four towns where tournaments were permitted. Dunstable was one of them.
A rare manuscript still exists which records the names of hundreds of knights who fought at Dunstable in 1309 during the tumultuous reign of King Edward II. And many details survive about a particularly elaborate tournament held by King Edward III at Dunstable in 1342. That was the last tournament of its type to be held in England.
The book in full colour costs £9.99 and is suitable for all ages. It is published with financial support from the Medieval Dunstable project, for which John researched the tournaments in detail in 2013. Signed copies are available from the author at 69 Derwent Drive, Dunstable, LU6 3PB. Cheques payable to John Buckledee should also include £2.99 for postage and packing. Bank transfer details obtainable via message on “contact us” on this website.

Welcome to the Dunstable and District Local History Society website. The society was founded in September 1991 and organises monthly meetings where its large audiences are entertained by a variety of speakers. The current programme is included in the events guide on this website. The society also arranges outings for members during the summer months and publishes a newsletter twice a year which contains authoritative articles on local history.

The society maintains research rooms at the Dunstable Council offices in Grove House, High Street North, where a collection of books, manuscripts and photos is kept. To arrange to visit the rooms please leave your contact details on the feedback form on the "contact us" section of this website.

It has also published a number of historical booklets about old trades of the town, including The Whiting Works, by Joan Curran, Dales Dubbin, Flemons' Herbs, Bagshawe's engineering and Cross's paperware, all by Colin Bourne and Shops and Markets by Fred Moore and Don Kemp. Society members also contributed to Dunstable at War, the collection of eyewitness accounts compiled by Jean Yates and Sue King. The latest publication is the history of Priory House by Joan Curran which is now on sale price £2.00.

The society meets at 7.45pm on the second Tuesday of each month (except during the summer break) at the Methodist Church Hall, The Square, Dunstable, where visitors are welcome.

Annual membership costs £8 (June - December fee £4). Entrance fee for non members is £2 per meeting.

This website includes complete reproductions of our newsletters covering a variety of local history subjects . We will be adding to these regularly.

There is also a selection of Dunstable photographs. Again, we will be adding to these regularly and also increasing the amount of detail included in the captions. We would welcome any additional information or photographs.


Click here to see the latest Newsletter (issue 64).

Click here to see our Dunstable timeline.

Click here to see the records of Dunstable Cemetery.

Visit our extensive web photo gallery and if there is something that triggers an old memory, why not tell us all about it.

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