Welcome Home! (Part Three)

It’s here! The final installment! This is the last of my posts sharing the inside look at the encampments we visited last Pennsic as part of our “Better Pennsic Encampment Walking Tour.” For those just joining us, my husband Phelippe and I organized a walking tour of various encampments this past Pennsic War. We were interested in finding encampments that were not necessarily the most period, but rather represented gentles making a genuine effort to come up with creative ways to enhance their SCA camping experience and the experience of their neighbors. We wanted ideas on how to make what you already have look better, how to hide essential mundanities, and so forth. We visited a total of five encampments. In the part one post you can see inside look into my and Phelippe’s personal encampment. In the part two post, I shared the details of visiting the encampments of the Wycked Wyvern and Westengale. This part three post, my final installment, will focus on the encampments of the Sign of the Rampant Dragon and Northern Army (home of Shire of Coldwood).

When last we left our intrepid adventurers (read walking tour participants), they were gathering the courage to depart the Westengale Encampment despite the threat of dark storm clouds. We did in fact set out from Westengale and made our way to our third visit– the home of Chiaretta di Fiore inside the Sign of the Rampant Dragon (N05). And, as if a good omen, the storm clouds dissipated.

Chiaretta was waiting for us on the road and welcomed us graciously into her home!

Personal Encampment of Chiaretta di Firore within the Sign of the Rampant Dragon Camp

As we entered the camp, we were immediately greeted with such hospitality! The Rampant Dragon has a large common tavern area. As we took our respite from the walking, we were offered refreshments– including the most fabulous cocktails prepared by Seraphine Richard (who I am given to understood will serve as bar tender for your Pennsic Party needs. Highly recommend. 5 stars).

Seraphine hard at work making her magic.

While enjoying our cocktails, we were given a little history about the encampment: Many of the residents of the Sign of the Rampant Dragon (SORD) were members of the Dragonship Haven Baronial encampment. When that dissolved, many former Dragonship Haven campers continued camping together. They moved from the B blocks, when the original campsite was replaced with parking, and moved to their new location during Pennsic 46. During the move from B blocks, the Black Pearl Tavern, which was located beside the Dragonship Haven encampment, also joined with SORD.

As mentioned, our host in the SORD encampment was Chiaretta do Fiore; after finishing our cocktails we made way over to get a closer look at her innovative encampment.

Tavern area in the Sign of the Rampant Dragon (the mug holders were so much fun)!
Chiaretta’s Encampment

When looking at Chiaretta’s encampment, immediately of note is the fence border and the innovative way she is raising her tent walls during the day to allow in the breeze. The fencing panels, purchased at Walmart, make for a nice way to maintain just enough privacy but still feel open to visitors. The “Roman Shade” technique and pulley system used to raise her tent walls is truly a unique solution to a problem many of us face– the hassle of daily tying back our tent walls to allow for cross breezes. Let’s take a closer look…

A closer look at the pulley system
Rope from the shade walls tied off

You’ll also note looking at Chiaretta’s encampment that she is utilizing interlocking floor mats to create a soft floor surface. She also has a very nice wooden slat bed, a dressing table and wash stand, dressing screen, and some innovative storage solutions (large chest and even a filing cabinet).

Detail of Chiaretta’s bed and floor mats

Our group truly enjoyed our stay with the Sign of the Rampant Dragon and Chiaretta was a very gracious host. The next campsite our group visited was actually mine and my husband’s. I will skip this visit for now as I have written about it more fully here.

After leaving our personal home in the Bhakail Baronial Encampment (N11), we ventured onward for our longest walk of the day… up to the Northern Army Encampment Third Division encampment which houses the Shire of Coldwood (N28). On our walk, however, we did pass many wonderful sites. I will share a few photos though I don’t have many details on these encampments.

We passed this lovely Tudor inspired “Vardo.” It’s amazing how even a few simple details
can help something that could feel too modern fit into the Pennsic world so nicely.
We also passed this wonderful period cooking pit complete with an earthen oven
Earthen oven and cooking area. We passed it in use on our way up to the Northern Army Encampment.

After a wonderful stroll, we made it up to N28 the home of the Northern Army Third Division Encampment and specifically the Shire of Coldwood in the East Kingdom. Here is a photo of myself and our host Wulfstan Von Croop as we made our way into the encampment.

Wulfstan and I discussing the encampment

As you can see the Northern Army Encampment also boasts a truly lovely heraldic sheet wall around the encampment. To be honest, the entire encampment just had such a lovely, private enclave-type feel. The encampment is a little more remote than some of the others we visited, it is shady, nestled within the trees (another difference), and it’s inhabitants work very hard to keep all things modern out of a visitor’s line of sight. It was like stumbling upon a lovely, truly medieval encampment hidden away inside of a shady glen. Geographically in the East Kingdom, Coldwood is located at the northern most border of New York state sharing a close border with Tir Mara (Canada). As we began our tour around the campsite, it was not uncommon to hear French being spoken– which only added to the transportive magic.

Wulftsan Von Croop’s personal encampment

Now time for a small sidebar story, a related anecdote, if you will indulge me for a moment. In addition to my interest in “medieval glamping”, I also love calligraphy and illumination. I work as a scribe for the East Kingdom creating award scrolls (you can see some of my work here). A year previous to creating this walking tour (so July of 2018), I received an assignment to create an Award of Arms for a gentle that I did not know. This is often the case when scribes receive assignments from the Signet. We are given a brief rundown within the assignment about the person, but unless we able to reach additional individuals that know the recipient, often this is the information from which we craft the award scroll. I was able to find out that the person receiving their AoA (Award of Arms) “had been a large part of the Shire of Coldwood. He has been instrumental in our yearly demonstrations, doing all the legwork and getting us set up with the local authorities. He has also been involved in the heavy weapons fighting, as well as A&S. Currently he has been working on his encampment to be as period as possible. Always willing to lend a hand and be there for all of us. After all these years I believe it is time to recognize that”. He ” is the best recruiter our group has ever seen. He loves promoting our group and tries his best to be as period as possible.  He travels to other events and is willing to support all our local groups.  For his size and strength he is a tenacious fighter…This AoA is a long time coming…” I also knew from the Signet that the individual had a Germanic persona but preferred English words on his scroll. I was honored to create this individual their award scroll and set off to do my very best.

Award of Arms for Wulfstan Von Croop
Based upon the journal of the German explorer Conrad Grünenberg
and his journey to Jerusalem in 1486

Flash forward almost a year later. My husband and I are trying to put together a list of encampments to visit on our tour. I remember a gentleman by the name of Clinton had posted pictures of his encampment in the Better SCA Camping Facebook page several months back. It was lovely! I reached out to him to see if he was willing to join our tour; he graciously accepted. It wasn’t until I was putting the final details together for the tour, and saw his SCA name, that I made the connection.

I was so excited to meet him! It’s so nice when things come full circle!

Ok back to the tour, I promise…

Underneath Wulfstan’s dining fly; such a cozy “patio”
Here is Wulfstan showing off his cooler improvements

His home was practical but so cozy. As we ventured inside his tent, you’ll notice some very interesting and innovative problem-solving. Take a look at these pictures…

Inside Wulfstan’s Tent

Wulfstan suspends fabric from his tent poles to utilize the “wasted” space in his oval marquee tent as storage. You’ll also see a variety of folding wooden furniture, modern objects covered with fabric, and the use of indoor/outdoor rugs and tarps as flooring. Notice the large pole in the center of the space. The oval marquee tent features two of these poles (one on either side of the tent). Wulfstan came up with an interesting solution for the other pole so that he did not lose central floor space…

Wulfstan’s Bed

Checkout the way he is routing the center pole around his bed! So creative! (see above)

Lovely storage chest at the foot of Wulfstan’s Bed
Inside Wulfstan’s tent

Wufltsan’s tent was also complete with many other lovely details. Above is a photo of a table with a vintage tapestry (belonging to Wulfstan’s wife) hanging above as decoration.

Visiting with Wulfstan, and all the members of the Northern Army encampment, was wonderful. They were so welcoming and offered us insight as well as a laugh!

As mentioned, this encampment was the last stop on our tour (THIS YEAR). We had a really wonderful time seeing so many beautiful homes. In addition, it was really lovely to be able to meet, visit, and travel with other Scadians who are excited about creating better homes at “Home.” I truly hope this will not be our only tour!

Our Tour Group while visiting the Northern Army Encampment

So next year– let’s all chat. I need your help! My husband and I would like to set up two tours (one during Peace Week and one during War Week). Please let us know if you are interested or if you know of an encampment to whom we should reach out. This year all of our encampments were from the East, but I’d love to see other kingdoms represented.

I also hope to see many more join our on our “Better Pennsic Encampments Walking Tour” version 2.0 at Pennsic XLIX!

Thanks for reading! Follow our blog and check back for other SCA related fun!

Contact Info: Email Emeline la Chauciere 233988@member.eastkingdom.org

Google Form to volunteer your encampment: https://forms.gle/yjFZHuSTdhhadWRLA

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