What do I get first?

The first thing you need is a pair of gloves. Before you take to the field you will need to practice with some weapons.Gloves will give some protection against occassional knocks and grazes to the hands. Gardening gloves will do for practice.

If you do not have any weapons you can borrow from other members. It can take time to get used to the weight and feel of various weapons so a little practice can help you decide your preferences before you buy.


If you want to join a battle in any capacity you must wear a helmet. There are a number of helmet styles. If you go to our Links Page you will find addresses for armourers. Look for helmets covering 1450-1500 in the following styles:

Sallet (Visorless with an open face is recommended for archers).
Barbute (Good protection but hot to wear and visibility is poor).
Kettle Hat (Low facial protection but cool to wear, excellent visibility and reasonably priced).
Bascinet (An earlier 15th century helmet. One with a 'pig faced' visor may be a little too early).
Scullcap (Cheapest and simplest. Only covers the top and back of the head but can be worn under a hat).
Armet (A close fitting helmet descended from the bascinet, usually worn with full armour).
Helmets can be finished in a polished steel, be 'blued' or be painted. Some come with a lining but some will not, so be prepared to make or improvise some extra padding.

Prices vary widely and have risen in recent years. People will often sell helmets second hand so it always pays to ask around. Some good buys can be found on Ebay, but check the period first. Check our Buy/Sell section for ads or go to the buy and sell pages at Re-enactors markets are a good place to find new and used items. The Woodvilles may be able to loan a helmet if you are unable to find one in time.

Padded Jack, Brigandine or Breastplate?

To fight in a bill block you must have some body protection. The most basic form is the Padded Jack. This is a quilted linen jacket stuffed with wool or stiffened with layers of fabric. It is flexible, easy to make and surprisingly resistant to a blow. The Jack was the choice of the common foot soldier.

A brigandine is a 15th century 'coat of plates'. It is hard to make and expensive to buy. It is made up of individual steel plates rivetted to the back of a fabric or leather outer layer. It is very flexible and protective.

The breastplate is made of solid metal and is less flexible than the brigandine. It can be worn alone with straps around the back or can be worn with a back-plate. A fancy breastplate can be very expensive. Look out for cheaper versions with a rougher finish. This may be advertised as 'munition' armour and was popular among the less well off in the late middle ages.

If you choose to wear a brigandine or breastplate it is recommended that you wear an Arming Jack underneath. This is like a padded jack but softer and thinner. It will help to absorb a blow and prevent chaffing.

All of these items can be bought 'off the peg'. An item made to measure will be more comfortable but much more expensive. All can be made at home if you have the skills and equipment. Many members have made one or more of these so feel free to ask their advice.

Buying More Armour

The sheer range of armour available means that it is outside of the scope of these pages. There are various styles including gothic and milanese as well as different combinations of armouring elements. It is best to seek advice from an armourer or owner before you buy!


You will also need a livery coat. This is worn on top of your kit and displays the badges or devices of the Woodville family. Liveries were often given to soldiers by powerful magnates. These soldiers were 'maintained' by the lord as a sort of private army. The Woodville livery is green with a sunburst and scallop on the front left breast and back. Livery tabards are supplied by the group in the short-term. Before making or ordering a livery please consult the group captain for advice.

Go to the next page for WEAPONS AND ACCESSORIES

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