The Chronicle of the Land of Llamalot
Once upon a time, in the far-off land of Llamalot, a wise and noble king ruled over his people. King Ringsbury Pendragon sat in regal splendour whilst his subjects could want for nothing and his knights sallied forth on journeys of great exploration.
The King was happiest spending time in his court with his Queen Maesievere by his side. Ringsbury Pendragon thought Maesievere the most beautiful lady in the Kingdom with her flowing blond locks and small beauty spot on her cheek. But (whisper it quietly) one in the Kingdom said Maisievere was hardly the prettiest in the paddock, and that he thought himself more handsome than ol’ Maisievere, and what could the King see in his Queen with that great big blotch on her face, anyway?
This brings us to King Ringsbury’s Captain of the Guard – Sir Silly – who, whilst handsome and brave, could indeed be a very silly and opinionated fellow indeed. But King Ringsbury was a wise old man and he knew Sir Silly could be humoured and didn’t mean a fourth part of what he grumbled about.
It must be allowed that even in the most golden of lands occasional discord may enter and whilst his people enjoyed early Springs, long Summers and late Autumns (indeed, seasons of mellow fruitfulness) the short, sharp Winters could see his people falling out over such trivial matters as their place at the manger. Everyone wanted to be at King Ringsbury’s end of the manger, and no-one felt happy at the foot. Brothers squabbled and young ones were left to collect the scraps from underneath.
‘There will never be harmony whilst my people squabble at the manger’, said King Ringsbury Pendragon. ‘All desire to eat at my end of the manger, and frankly I’m tired of getting my toes trodden on. My pronouncement is: Let there be a Round Manger!’ And so saying, King Ringsbury had his wish and his people ate forevermore from a round manger. No one person was more important than his cousin. All could feed equally, and once satiated, would lie down where they had eaten and chew the cud as people like to do.
King Ringsbury and Queen Maesievere ruled over brave knights. These same knights were tasked with escorting visitors to King Ringsbury’s domain on walks through the surrounding countryside.
First to sally forth on an expedition was noble Sir Brodivere – defender of the weak, protector of children, and uncle to several of the King’s young.
Sir Prancealot with his bouncy personality was loved by his noble uncle Sir Brodivere and would act as squire to his uncle, being very attentive and never leaving Sir Brodivere’s side.
Athletic Sir Sten was the King’s Champion on the Field of Valour and competed for the favours of the Ladies of the Court by displaying great prowess and acumen in the Trial by Agility – a fearsome torment only a few could master. Sir Sten was greatly admired for his character which was knightly, for his manner which was gentle, and for his face which was open, honest and handsome.
Lord Ambrey was the Queen’s first born and had a special place in the hearts of all who met him. He delighted in escorting fair ladies through the countryside and they felt safe with him by their side.
Now, reputation may precede a man, and all in the land knew Noble Sir Aves had a fondness for the dinner table. Indeed (in quiet corners) it was whispered Noble Sir Aves preferred having his head in the trough than sallying forth on Chivalric Expeditions. Truth to tell, many of the previous Winter’s food disputes had involved Noble Sir Aves, who had a bigger belly than most to fill.
The Captain of the Guard would keep a watchful eye on the trees and bushes they passed on these Expeditions lest any fearful beast leap out and attack the party (but all the expeditions ever encountered were fields full of sheep and a sky full of birds).
Too young to take part in expeditions, the young Princes, Rollo and Mo were indeed in clover, and though a couple of young tearaways, they would always respond to their King’s final request for them to ‘Stop It’. One day, Prince Mo asked his mother Queen Maesievere where Sir Pepsival was, because the Captain had told him that the banished Sir Pepsival was his father, but gentle Queen Maesievere told Prince Mo ‘Hush, darling, good King Ringsbury is father to us all’, which left young Prince Mo content.
Lady Meg of the Long Lashes was as coy as she was inquisitive. Lady Meg was very protective of her young charges and whenever she saw a strange and fiendish creature she would chase it away.
The fearsome beast people know by the name of ‘Tiddles’ was a regular visitor to the King’s domain, but Lady Meg would not tolerate the fearsome beast people know by the name of ‘Tiddles’ near her noble Prince Rollo and would chase the tabby fiend away. Indeed, for days afterwards Lady Meg could be heard telling anyone she could corner, how she had vanquished the fearsome beast people know by the name of ‘Tiddles’. (A neutral might have concluded Lady Meg of the Long Lashes had difficulty differentiating between scale and distance).
Lady Hetty and Princess Marden le Fay were the apples of King Ringsbury’s eye. He delighted in his younger kin and was so proud to have Lady Hetty blossoming into a fine young woman and the Princess was so pretty he couldn’t quite believe his genes (and was right not to).
King Ringsbury Pendragon decreed that his herd should go forth and multiply and commanded his ‘Knights of the Round Manger’ to undertake a quest and to look for new lands to dwell in.
Sir Brodivere strode out looking for adventure. He led Sir Prancealot, Sir Sten, Lord Ambrey, the stout but still Noble Sir Aves and Sir Silly on a journey to the Common Lands. A high and boggy place populated only by the Wild Horses of Exmoor, Sir Brodivere was not afraid. His courageous demeanour gave comfort to Sir Prancealot (who nevertheless managed to bounce around quite a bit).
Sir Brodivere and Sir Silly reported back to their King. ‘My Lord, we have discovered new lands at a distance of but three leagues. The land is steeply sloping but easy for us to traverse. There will be apples to eat and chickens to guard’.
King Ringsbury Pendragon decreed: ‘You have done well, staunch Sir Silly and brave Sir Brodivere. I shall send my dearest Lady Tenbury Wells and her beloved daughter Lady Merrivale to live there, and they will eat apples and guard chickens and have more children.’
And so it came to pass that The Expedition was equipped. Much planning and preparation took place on the New Lands. A castle was constructed, boundaries secured, and a moat dug, and great joy was in the hearts of Sir Nick and Lady Sarah who would share the New Lands. And one day in early April Lady Tenbury Wells and her daughter Lady Merrivale would depart for the place people do call Abbeydore and for pastures new and would leave behind the Land of Llamalot forevermore.
As Spring progressed, King Ringsbury Pendragon decreed his people should attend the annual Tournament at the place they do call Somerset. The noblest and finest in the land would gather to hold a pageant and the young ladies amongst his people would be seen in public for the first time. And so it was arranged for Sir Brodivere and his squire Sir Prancealot to escort Lady Hetty and Princess Marden le Fay to the Tournament.
Here endeth the tale of the Creation of the Knights of the Round Manger. Another chapter of the Chronicle of the Land of Llamalot will relate the story of the Tournament at the place they do call Somerset.