Jousting for Britain

By | Category: Travel news
Leeds Castle - Jousting

jousting at Leeds Castle in Kent

Without doubt the most important tourism story of the week is the announcement that English Heritage is pushing for jousting to be included as an Olympic sport from the 2020 Games onwards.

At first I thought that April Fools’ Day had transferred to July but there, on the English Heritage website, is the press release. You might have thought that jousting was part of our tourism offer whereby re-enactors create events from mediaeval fairs for local pageants, and weekend attractions. This weekend, for example, there are jousts at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk and Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. In all there are 24 knightly or jousting events listed on the English Heritage website that occur before the end of the school holidays.

But surely these are attractions and not sport. Is it played anywhere as a sport with county or world championships? Is there a sequence of jousts that have to be entered to achieve sports superstar status?

At the beginning of this month in France there was the Tournoi de Maine where Australian, Canadian and French competitors jousted. An Australian won having been able to practise jousting in his full time job at Kryal Castle near Ballarat in the Australian state of Victoria.  Kryal is a replica mediaeval castle used as a tourist attraction owing to the fact that the era of castle building was over by the time Australia was spotted by Tasman, Cook and Dampier and the aboriginal people there before the white settlers seem to have had no interest in constructing them!

People like Henry VIII, Charles I of Naples and the Holy Romand Emperor, Maximilian I, were well known for jousting. Henry II of France enjoyed it although Henry died jousting and thereafter, France banned it. English Heritage claim that it is one of the oldest equestrian sports in the world and England’s first national sport and want you to sign a petition urging its acceptance.

But would the Olympic Committee support the idea? According to English Heritage, in the United States, a similar campaign has been launched and jousting is already recognised as a sport by a number of US states, including Maryland where it is the official state sport.

There are tournaments in places like Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland so maybe it does stand a chance of being an Olympic sport.

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