Travel Back in Time for a Tudor May Day


England’s premier Elizabethan reenactors will this Bank Holiday weekend transport Chiltern Open Air Museum visitors back over 400 years with an authentic 16th-Century May Day festival. The event takes place on Sunday 5 May and Bank Holiday 6 May from 10am until 5pm.

COAM will be welcoming back the Suffolk Free Company, experts in the interpretation of 16th-Century living. They portray Tudor soldiers, noblemen and women, peasants, and beggars, all around the country at festivals and historic buildings. They pride themselves on the accurate detail of their costumes, songs and skills for the enjoyment and education of their audiences.

‘In the SFC we are on a constant search for historical reality. We are fascinated by the lives of ordinary people from the 16th century, and we love sharing their stories with the wonderful people we meet at Chiltern Open Air Museum,’ said Tim Eagling, Captain of the Militia.

Much more than actors, the SFC are skilled craftspeople, musicians, historians, and military technicians. This weekend they will create an authentic May Day celebration from the late 1500s, a period when this time of year was deeply significant for the population of England. It was a time of hope and thankfulness for the upcoming growing season and the end of days of darkness and cold in winter.

This Bank Holiday weekend COAM’s village green will swarm with Tudor characters, dancing and singing, giving craft and cooking demonstrations, and answering questions about Tudor life. In keeping with the historic battle, there will also be sword fighting and (quite safe) gunpowder explosions and military drilling for visitors of all ages to join in.

Museum General Manager, Helen Light says, ‘At Chiltern Open Air Museum we always aim to bring history to life. This weekend the past literally lives and breathes with the extraordinary Suffolk Free Company. The sights, sounds and smells are so vivid it’s really the next best thing to time travel.’

Tickets and additional information can be found at