Living History comes to Willows sanctuary

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Willows, the North-east’s largest animal sanctuary, has launched a new living history exhibition.

The exhibition at the Strichen sanctuary has been designed by historical re-enactor Richard Cockill, and he is currently giving tours every weekend in authentic handmade medieval costume.

“What it is in essence is a slice of life from our medieval past,” says Richard.

“It gives an insight into how people lived their lives and their daily objects, animals and occupations. At the moment we have a re-creation of a 14th century knights pavilion.

“Because we are using authentic re-creations of the items rather than historical artefacts, visitors are invited to touch, try out and discuss everything from the knight’s great helm, weapons and armour to his everyday cooking and eating implements. We even have a bed for him!

“But one of the most exciting and unique things about the display is that Willows has a collection of historical animals, so we are able to show visitors the sort of horses a knight would have have in his retinue: Charlie the destrier, Sprite the palfrey, and Beauty is our rouncey.

“We are also lucky to have a historical Tamworth pig, who is a great character, also geese, and Soay sheep, who are an ancient breed.”

Willows is open for visitors 11am-5pm Saturdays and Sundays, with last entry at 4.15pm, and no additional charge to see the Living History display.

In addition, Richard runs medieval combat corporate team-building days, which yoyu can arrenge by contacting the Willows on 01771 653112 or by emailing

Back in time: Historical re-enactor

Richard Cockill is currently giving tours every weekend in authentic handmade medieval costume.