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Gruyères turns back clock

Members of the Company of St George negotiate, medieval style.

(Company of St George)

The town of Gruyères, famous for its castle, is inviting the public to a medieval festival on June 22 and 23.

About 100 costumed members of medieval groups will take part in the Festival of St John, which dates back to the Middle Ages. They will try to recreate the atmosphere of the early 16th century, with a medieval market, a procession, and a demonstration of ancient artillery, music and dance.

The festival originated hundreds of years ago as part of a religious ceremony when the local count led a procession to the castle chapel where St John was asked for his protection.

To appease his subjects, the count also donated a barrel of his best wine.

Mock wedding

The Festival of St John was resurrected three years ago, and the highlight this year will be a mock wedding reception for the count's oldest son and his bride, the daughter of the Marshall of Burgundy. The marriage put an end to a decades-old dispute between the two families.

John Howe, the well-known fantasy artist who worked on the Lord of the Rings film, will be the most prominent member of the medieval group, Company of St George, which is taking part in the festival.

The company has patterned itself on a late 15th century military brigade, and prides itself on its authenticity.

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