It’s Time to Joust the Medieval Way

Mighty Medieval Jousting returns to Leeds Castle this Bank Holiday Weekend

This Bank Holiday Weekend immerse yourself in mighty clashes and thrilling entertainment as squires arm the knights in full plate armour, and four knightly warriors spectacularly show off their skills as they demonstrate Mounted Skill-at-Arms before taking part in an authentic jousting competition.

Fill your metal boots with Combat Displays, archery tournaments, firepower, and the ridiculously exciting trebuchet demonstrations; don’t miss the opportunity to watch the mighty medieval trebuchet shoot into the castle’s moat.

A truly thrilling day out for the entire family. Transport yourselves back to the Middle Ages and experience a whole host of themed activities from Children’s Mini Battles and Have a Go Archery to meeting a medieval surgeon.

The Grand Medieval Joust is included in the standard admission price.

Admission tickets cost £24.50 for adults; £21.50 for seniors and visitors with disabilities (carer goes free); £16.50 for children (under 4s free). Admission tickets are valid for 12 months so you can pay once and visit all year round. Book online and receive 10% off admission tickets.

Leeds Castle is located near Maidstone in Kent, just off the Junction 8 of the M20 and within easy reach of London. Grounds open at 10am daily and the Castle is open from 10:30am. Last admission is 4:30pm and gates close at 6pm April to September.


Review: Soviet Military Badges

A History and Collector’s Guide

Richard Hollingdale

Soviet Military Badges are fascinating objects too often neglected in English language publications.

With amazingly clear and well-detailed images, this book would appeal to both novices and enthusiasts (with me being a definite novice when it comes to military badges).

The aim of this book has been to offer the reader the greatest amount of information in the most readily accessible format – a pocket reference that can easily be dipped into in order to help the reader quickly identify the badges in their collections, or make them aware if other variations yet to be found.

Soviet Military Badges

This book does exactly that. You don’t need to read this title cover to cover by any means. What I loved about it was it helped me, and will continue to help me, understand more about a person in a photograph based on the badges they wear.

With good descriptions and introductions, although sometimes technical, it is in no way patronising in its approach, nor does it expect you to already know heaps about the subject.



Published by Amberley Publishing
96 pages
April 2016

Review: The Lancaster

Gordon A. A. Wilson
With photographs by Martin Keen

This book is both the story of the Lancaster and that of its seven-man crews: pilot, bomb aimer/nose gunner, wireless operator, flight engineer, navigator and mid-upper and rear gunners.

The Lancaster

This book is a great addition to Amberley Publishing’s library. I was swept away by the stunning photographs – both colour and black and white – that really helped to tell the story of the Lancaster and its crew.

Books like this are so important as they not only document history but they serve to keep memories alive.

Each chapter has an introduction, some that left me with goosebumps… *no spoilers*.

This is an exceptional piece of work that serves not only as something to be read, but something to keep. A great documentation of the history of the Lancaster.

Published by Amberley Publishing 
288 pages
November 2015

Review: The Long Shot

“Jack Adams works as a gamekeeper. The Great War has already started when a chance meeting with a serving officer introduces him to a new kind of warfare, sniping.” – Blurb

This is an incredibly easy-to-read fictional story of a young lad facing the atrocities of war, becoming a hero and a man, and yet still trying to have a life back home that he misses dearly. By all accounts, it would resonate with most soldiers and families at that time, and what Atherton does is create a world that you can become totally transfixed with. As a reader you find yourself routing for most of the characters and despising others because of their actions. Using real places and battles, the books is a reminder of the horrors of war and doesn’t let it slip past you that it is based on true events.

It can seem sometimes that accounts of history in fiction novels can carry a much clearer message than a memoir, diary or even photograph. The use of language can be interpreted differently in fiction and create deeper meanings and, I think, allows for a more thorough understanding of war. The freedom to be creative and use a whole host of adjectives can sometimes create a more vivid image than when just recounting factual events. Atherton does this brilliantly. In just the first page you conjure up images of the wildness of war in his comparison between the cold nights in France and the rabbits running wild at home. He shows very simply how easy it is to be so unlucky in war; “…it had been two days since that shot, the one that had had his name on it and which missed by less than an inch. Clearly, his name had been spelled incorrectly.”

Sometimes, though, the descriptions of war can become tiresome and I found myself flicking through pages to get on with the story. The constant use of the word ‘stupid’ to describe the war, although accurate, seemed lazy and irritating.

However, the general story was exciting, full of action, friendship, and heart-break. The story conveys Atherton’s in-depth knowledge of the subject perfectly. The need to find out what happens to each and every character means you won’t put this book down and leave it for a few days, you’ll want to steam through every page.

I don’t think that there is any age limitations on reading this book. Secondary school students should definitely be told to pick it up as it’s an effortless read that says so much so simply, and is akin to Michael Murpurgo’s Private Peaceful. Adults alike would be interested whether they have a passion for military history or not thanks to the personalities of the characters and how easy it can be to relate them to real-life. Highly recommended.

The Long Shot is the first instalment of the story, followed later by A Shot in the Shadows.

The long shot pb
Published by Michael Atherton
284 pages
October 2014

Available from and Amazon

You can also follow Michael’s official blog and Facebook.

Brand-spanking new American Air Museum at Duxford

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford will be opening its doors to a new and transformed American Air Museum on 16 March 2016. It has been supported by a grant from the National Lottery Fund.

Visitors are invited to ‘re-live exciting personal stories’ about Duke Boswell, the man who on D-Day jumped out of a C-47 transport aircraft, and also about Huie Lamb, a fighter pilot who lost his P-51 Mustang in the English Channel.

It’s not all about the first and second World War though, the American Air Museum keeps up to date, allowing visitors to hear the story of Robert Gutierrez, an army man who joined the US Air Force the day after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. On display are his uniforms that he wore on active service in Afghanistan.

Respected historian Lord Asa Briggs has passed away

Lord Asa Briggs, a well-respected historian and advocate of education, passed away peacefully at his East-Sussex home in Lewes on 15 March 2016.

He led an incredible, fast-paced life and contributed his expertise to a huge number of educational institutes, helping to establish the Open University and Sussex University. During World War II, he was stationed at Bletchley Park where he worked at the code-breaking station that eventually deciphered Germany’s Enigma code.

Born in Keighley, Yorkshire, Briggs attended Cambridge University where he graduated with a BA in 1941, and a BSc in Economics from the University of London External Programme later that same year.

Briggs told History Today about his University interview: “The history fellow who interviewed me in December 1937 – I was only 16 then – said: ‘Briggs, you are only a baby, but there is going to be a war and I would like you to take your degree before you go into uniform’.”

In 1976, Lord Briggs was made a life peer and sat as a crossbencher.

He was a great and influential man who will be missed my many. Pen & Sword Books is incredibly proud to publish his trilogy of Frontline titles.