Raby

Raby Castle is delighted to once again be hosting the English Longbow World Wand Championships on Sunday 23rd June, organised by the Archers of the Tees.

If you visit us on that day you will be able to see the ancient sport of archery taking place in front of the Castle.

Archery has been a part of Raby’s history for centuries and it is fitting that this event is held here against the backdrop of the Castle. In 1346 Ralph Nevill, 2nd Baron Nevill of Raby led English troops to victory against Scottish Forces at the Battle of Neville’s Cross. The Battle took place just outside of Durham and the Battlefields Trust believes that as many as 10,000 English archers were involved.

We spoke to Fred Bates of the Archers of the Tees who told us that Raby, Darlington and the surrounding area was renowned during the 100 Years’ War for fletchery (arrow making).

Fred said: “Over the years the World Wand Championship has drawn competitors from around the world, from China, Hong Kong, Spain, Germany and Australia to name just a few as well as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Through events like this the Archers of the Tees promote the traditional skills of archery and ensure the sport continues.”

Fred explained that the wand was used to train archers to shoot in a straight line. It was traditionally made of willow and was around an inch thick.

“The wand we use is around 4 inches thick and we set it at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards so that everyone can have a go, from children to adults,” he said.

“In days gone by children as young as 7 were taught archery. They would have been expected to shoot battle distance of around 200 to 250 yards by the time they were 15,” he added.

The youngest World Wand Champion was just 15 years old when he lifted the trophy at Raby. This year’s event will see archers of all ages compete for the Wand Trophy, which has been made by archer and local jeweller Paul Sampson.

Fred said: “Archery has been practised in England since 1066 for use in battles and the first competition was the Silver Arrow Competition which was started in 1673 by the first official society of the sport, the Society of Archers.

“Raby Castle is an incredible venue and it’s an unbelievable experience to practice archery here in such a beautiful, historic setting where the space and the facilities are so good.

“We are looking forward to this year’s event and hope visitors to the castle on that day will stop and watch as competitors hold their nerve and test their skills to compete for the title of World Wand Champion 2019.”

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