This page of the site isn't completed yet, and probably never will be, given foggy memories and the way new things crawl out of the woodwork... I'm keen to hear about things I've missed out (especially in the 1985-87 period) or errors I've perpetrated. The most recent addition (Jul 98) is a possibly complete list of office holders.
Arms - Territory - Name - Newsletter - History - Rolls of Office Holders - Library - Southernwood Hold
Gules, a tower Or, the base environed of a laurel wreath, in chief three mullets argent, all within a bordure embattled Or.
These were not the first set of arms submitted. At least one set was returned (May 84) as "having too much detail", but I can find no record of what they were.
Although it once claimed dominion over all New Zealand territories, Southron Gaard is now bounded on the north by Cook Strait. Within its new boundaries, activity is primarily centred in Christchurch and surrounding districts, with some individual members in other centres.
"Southron Gaard" is generally said to mean "Southern Guard/Guardian/Guardpost". The name is reflected in the tower on the barony's arms, the name of its newsletter (From the Tower) and the title of its herald (Tour d' Or, or Golden Tower). It is not clear precisely why the name was chosen; there may be a connection with the fact that "Caid" is said to mean "fortress" in Arabic. It has been pointed out that the Barony (then Province) of Nordwache, established the year before Southron Gaard, has a name meaning "North Guard", and the arms of several other Caidan groups feature towers.
However, the name dates from very early on (prior to September 1982) and, given the very limited contact with central Caid, it's not clear who would have known of these things at that time. An alternative explanation, given by Thorvald Wulfaersson in an article in the Tenth Anniversary (May/Jun '92) issue of FTT, is as follows:
Of the naming I could tell. How many and lyrical were the names proposed, but finally in Norse style was chosen the simplest. We called Byzantium "Micklegard", the Big City. We would call ourselves Southrongaard, the Southern City.
The newsletter of Southron Gaard is called From the Tower, generally referred to as FTT. It is now published monthly as an A5 booklet of about 16 pages. Issues survive from as early as November 1982, although there is an unfortunate gap in the archives from 1985-1987 (and a few missing issues subsequent to that). Efforts are being made to track down copies of the missing magazines -- please contact me if you think you may be able to help.
The chronicler is always interested in receiving material that can be used in FTT, whether text, photographs or line art. Subscriptions within New Zealand cost $12/year, and are organised through the chronicler. Alternatively, single issues may be purchased for $1.00.
[While I try to be reasonably objective, this account naturally reflects my own perspective on various issues and is not in any way an official chronicle. If anyone else wants to write their own version, I'll see if I can find space for it. - Edward]
Back in the mists of time -- 1981, in fact -- Elidan of Teonar and Sable John of the Franks were visiting this land from Atlantia, because John was stationed in Christchurch by the US Navy. This much everyone agrees on... They decided that establishing a branch of the SCA would be a desirable thing, and set about doing so. Prior to this, they had been acquainted with a number of other founder members via roleplaying.
The first feast was held in 1982; an account thereof is given in the FTT for May/Jun '92 leading to suspicion that it may have been held at about that time of year.
There are those who claim that the first edict of the seneschal was that no one within Southron Gaard should bear the name of Brian, due to the overwhelming number of Brians involved at the time (about three).
It is said that the founders sent missives to more than one Kingdom (at least the West and Caid) seeking support, but that Caid was the only one to reply. It's clear in any case that Caid was the main candidate for parent kingdom as early as September 1982, and by June 1983 the group had made a firm decision to join Caid. In the interim, some anger was caused by Caid's apparently deciding to attach Southron Gaard to the Barony of Western Seas -- which was understood by the local group to be a different kingdom, and thus a rejection by Caid. It may have been at this point that other kingdoms were contacted.
The group had initially hoped to become a Barony, but when it was formally recognised, on November 26 1983, it was as the Shire of Southron Gaard. At this stage there was still discussion about joining some other kingdom, with the possibility of joining Lochac evidently having stronger support than staying with Caid.
A significant number of the Shire's early members were drawn from the social group associated with the university club KAOS (Killing as an Organised Sport). This is also the case today -- many, if not most, attendees at any given event will probably be current or former KAOS associates.
A factor in those days which seems to have now largely died away appears to have been considerable enthusiasm for liaising with groups such as the Guild of Spinners and Weavers, the Early Music Society and the Jubilee Singers. Many reports of such contact are found in early FTTs.
At the start of 1984, Elidan and John returned to the US, leaving the group with no one with outside SCA experience. They were awarded the Order of the Kiwi, First Class -- the Shire's highest award at that time. Shortly afterwards, Elidan was appointed Southron Gaard's official "ambassadress" to Atlantia.
Later in 1984, the Shire received its first visitor from central Caid, Lord Baer of the Golden Oaks, bearing the Shire's official warrant. Baer was a fighter, and before his arrival sent a missive encouraging Shire fighters to prepare their carpet armour.
At that stage we were at the carpet armour stage of development -- most of which seemed to be made in my lounge, as it rained solidly for a week before our tourney in honour of Baer's visit! However, on the day it was brilliantly fine, and we had a small, but successful tourney in North Hagley Park, and a feast afterwards in the upstairs commonroom at the Arts Centre, at which we had live Medieval music ... The tourney was held on Sunday 13 May, which then became the Shire anniversary.
-- Lady Sinecha [formerly Caitlin] ingen Cumhail ua Briuin
After an energetic start to the year, lethargy set in in the winter, and a meeting was called to discuss winding up. Support for continuing was strong, and the group decided to try less ambitious events. The end of the year saw 25 addresses on the contact list.
Unfortunately, the beginning of 1985 saw a major schism. Prior to this time, officers had been elected, but the seneschal now decided not to hold elections, ironically citing fear of a schism. As a result, a number of people left to form Southernwood Hold.
Just after this point, there is a two-year gap in the FTT collection. This was clearly not a healthy time for the Shire; the April 1987 FTT lists a total of just nine subscribers, and I am informed that the group only survived because of a hard core of no more than five people. The populace were possibly cheered by two overseas visitors around this time, however: Lord Dikran Avazian from the West, and Bjo Trimble of Star Trek fandom fame -- welcomed by both the SCA and SF communities in Christchurch. In August there were more visitors, this time from Lochac.
In early 1988, Master John ap Griffin and Mistress Flavia Beatrice Carmigniani visited from central Caid, and amidst a bunch of new arrivals in the middle of that year was a Caidan knight, Sir Alwyn the Sinistral. Shire awards existing at this time were the Kiwi (Gold, Silver and Bronze), the Southron Star and the Musician's Award. In October, Southron Gaard received its first royal visitor, King Brion Thornbird, and at this time the edict against Brians in the Shire was rescinded.
The time leading up to and after the royal visit was one of growth. Things continued apace with the Festival at the End of the World, Southron Gaard's first major camping event, at Easter 1989. Later that year, Rosamonde d'Oislet and Linnet of Liddington made a pilgrimage to the US, including a visit to Pennsic XVIII. Unfortunately, things rather fell apart around August with what seems to have been a spectacular case of burnout causing a major setback for the group. In the aftermath, many people left, and few of them have returned.
1990 marked a renaissance in the SCA in Christchurch on two fronts. First, a number of people reluctant to play with the Shire decided that it was desirable to have an alternative, and determined to establish a College on campus instead of a non-SCA group. Wisely, the Shire did not object to this. The new group, the College of Reannag Fhara, swiftly achieved a reasonable degree of success. Shortly thereafter an early member of Southernwood Hold, Rowena le Sargent, returned from an overseas trip, during which she had spent time with sometime Hold members Thorvald Wulfaersson and his wife Alessandra Patavia in An Tir. She was full of enthusiasm for heavy fighting and spurred the formation of a fighting household, the Steel Knot, by interested members of the KAOS social group. She also contacted Southron Gaard and took over the Marshal's position, which had been vacant for the past year.
With both of these groups being larger than the Shire and primarily university based, the College might well have grown to overshadow the Shire as the principal SCA group in Christchurch, but personality clashes pushed the groups apart and meant that the Steel Knot's transition to an SCA household (which it had not been initially) happened in the direction of the Shire.
Both the Shire and the College were thus able to draw new blood from the university, and the fact that both were drawing primarily from the same social group provided a unifying force amongst the bulk of the populace that has been stronger than the occasional interpersonal friction among their leaders.
Despite there being two actual branches, each officially holding its own events, for the most part the SCA in Christchurch can be considered as a single unit. Growth has slowed since the 1990-91 spurt, but the events of that time have lead to a much healthier group than was present in the mid to late 1980s.
At the beginning of 1991 was held the Southron Summer Encampment, direct ancestor of Canterbury Fair. This event was to a large extent the work of the Steel Knot, particularly Morgana de Maar (now Her Excellency Eleonora), on whose parents' property it was held. At the other end of the year was the first incarnation of the other main local camping event, Reannag Fhara's St Jude's Fair.
In October, King Patrick and Queen Adrianne graced our shores as the second royal visit took place.
1992 was celebrated as the tenth anniversary of the Shire. The middle of the year also saw serious discussion of the possibility of joining with Lochac, which looked like it might be about to become a kingdom; the matter, however, never progressed very far and died when Lochac slowed its kingdomhoodward moves.
In late 1992, the Southron Summer Encampment underwent something of a mutation, moving from its original home to the lands of Swannanoa, where battle was joined with forces from Lochac. Conflict was stirred by Baron Thomas Butterthorn, who had immigrated from the West as husband to Lady Linnet, over the overlordship of Antarctica, and the event was referred to as the Pen Gwynne War. It was acclaimed a great success despite the rain, with half a dozen visitors from Lochac, one from Western Seas and an Atenvelter.
In June 1993 was held the first event hosted by the Household of the Burnished Sun in Nelson, and October saw the first sizeable visiting party from central Caid: King John and Queen Ceinwen, accompanied by Gavin Mac Dhomhnuill (now Sir Gavin), Lady Cara Michelle DuValier, Sir Stephen of Huntingdon, Sir Derek of Kent and Lady Brid na Chon ni Mara. At this time also, Matsuyama Yoshitoshi was admitted to the Order of the Pelican, becoming Southron Gaard's first peer, and many others received lesser awards. Quite a fun visit, and the Hounds of Auburn enjoyed monopolising the visitors' attention...
Spoiling the beginning of 1994 was an attempt by the BoD to compel paid membership in the SCA Inc for all participants, souring things for a number of us locally for a couple of years. On the bright side, in place of the Pen Gwynne War was the Art of War Fayre, held for the first time at Journey's End Campground. New groups started up in Cambridge (Hamilton) and Auckland, and there was contact with the Wellington Mediaeval Guild. Discussion of a move to Barony began in a serious way.
Canterbury Fair in 1995 was again at Journey's End.
In 1996, John and Ceinwen were back with an even larger entourage (the apparent geometrical progression in the size of visiting groups indicates that some time early next century, all of Caid will be present in Christchurch). One reason for their visit was to raise Southron Gaard to the status of Barony. The first Baroness and Baron were Eleonora van den Bogaerde and Lord Sigurd Hardtrader. At the same court, Eleonora and Madelein Cereis de Toulouse were made Companions of the Order of the Pelican, Rowena le Sargent became a Companion of the Order of the Laurel, and Callum Macleod was made a court baron to great acclamation.
The information on which these lists are based comes from the From the Tower archive. Unfortunately, FTTs carry regular lists of officers only from August 1988. Entries before that date are mostly based on passing mentions, and terms of office cannot easily be established in most cases.
Offices are listed as "vacant" when explicitly mentioned as such in FTT and "apparently vacant" when they don't appear in a presumably complete list of offices.
At some stage I shall go through and give everyone their correct titles at the time they were in office.
This office has on several occasions been held by two people, an arts and a science specialist. In such cases they are listed in that order.
Two positions are listed as Shire offices in single copies of FTT:
Matsuyama Yoshitoshi acted as archivist for some years, but does not seem to have been listed as an officer, possibly because he generally held other offices.
The barony possesses a small library of books and magazines on mediaeval topics. It is currently housed at the Carillon - contact Bastian or Beatrice if you want access. We are assured the resident ferret is shy and harmless...
After the early-1985 schism, a group including Steffan von Haskell, Callum Macleod and Christiane Liones von Armangen decided to form a separate mediaevalist group (initially announced in FTT as a household) at the University of Canterbury. Southernwood Hold attracted an enthusiastic group of new people; like the original Shire it found support in KAOS, effectively severing the KAOS-SCA link for a number of years.
Although Southernwood Hold broke up in 1987, its people, via the Steel Knot, KAOS and Reannag Fhara, have in many ways formed the basis of the current barony. Many of its members and their associates are now active in the Barony, while only a couple of those who stayed with the Shire at the time of the schism remain.
After the break-up of the Hold, a sizeable chunk of the major players continued mediaeval activity. A number went to the Shire's 1988 Michelmas feast -- the first real contact with the SCA for many of them -- and a large contingent attended the feast for King Brion's visit, with some residents of the Menagerie (a memorable student flat) providing kitchen support there. Much of the Hold's collection of weapons and armour made its way first to the Menagerie, where it was used in bouts in the front yard and on the Bealey Avenue traffic islands, and then to another flat at Darvel Street, where it was taken over by the newly formed Steel Knot in 1990. The Menagerie was also the site of a feast of its own in 1988, with food which has rarely been bettered.
Reannag Fhara drew strongly on this group for its initial membership, holding its founding meeting at the New Menagerie, and the Steel Knot was almost entirely drawn from it.
Copies of five issues of the Hold's newsletter are held in the Southron Gaard library.
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