Historic Hereward the Wake event to be commemorated this week

Lewis Kirkbride as Hereward the Wake

Lewis Kirkbride (pictured) will revive the actions of Hereward the Wake this week, 951 years after the rebel leader attacked the Peterborough monastery. - Credit: Supplied by the WakeHereward Project

A re-enactor will revive the actions of Hereward the Wake this week – exactly 951 years after he led an attack on Peterborough and travelled across the Fens to Ely. 

Lewis Kirkbride will perform the role of Hereward and bring this historic event to life with his own band of men to raise funds for the charity ManHealth.

Lewis Kirkbride will play the role of Hereward the Wake

Lewis Kirkbride (pictured) will play the part of Hereward the Wake on the walk between Peterborough and Ely to raise funds for the charity ManHealth. - Credit: Supplied by the WakeHereward Project

On June 2, 1070 Hereward and his Band of Men were on board a fleet of Viking longships and keen to reach Peterborough where they ransacked the monastery.  

Hereward had previously led a popular opposition against the Norman rulers, and his new Danish Viking allies then made their way to their Ely monastery base. 

There, the aim was to cause more havoc for William the Conqueror, England’s new French-Norman king.

Hereward Charity Challenge poster

A poster promoting the Hereward Charity Challenge, which will take place this week. - Credit: Supplied by the WakeHereward Project


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For those re-enacting the journey for the Hereward Charity Challenge, they will begin in Peterborough and will hike over 40 miles along the Hereward Way Long Distance Walking Path. 

Over two days, they will travel through Whittlesey, March, Christchurch, Welney, Little Downham on their way to Ely. 

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And there will be various opportunities to spot Hereward and his band of men. 

At 9am on Wednesday (June 2), the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, the Dean of Peterborough, will present Lewis with the Hereward Charity Challenge Trophy. 

This represents the gold and silver Hereward stole from the Peterborough monastery, which left it desolate and ruined.  

Hereward Charity Challenge trophy

The Hereward Charity Challenge trophy represents the gold and silver stolen from Peterborough monastery by Hereward the Wake and his band of men. - Credit: Supplied by the WakeHereward Project

Hereward and his band of men will then make their way to Whittlesey where they are due to arrive between 11:30am and 12noon.  

It is estimated they will reach March Library by 6pm where they will display their weaponry and historian David Maile will give a short talk about Hereward’s raid on Peterborough’s monastery.  

March Library is also hosting an exhibition about Hereward’s exploits put together by the WakeHereward Project, the organisation behind the commemorations.  

On Thursday (June 3), the men will leave March Market Place at 7am and walk the Hereward Way through Christchurch, Welney and Little Downham.  

The group plan to arrive outside Ely Cathedral at 6pm.  

Hereward Charity Challenge shield

The Hereward Charity Challenge shield will be carried on the entire journey. - Credit: Supplied by the WakeHereward Project

They will be led into Ely March and Ely by James Bowman, who will be holding the Fenland flag he created.  

Hereward’s Standard Bearer Rahenald the Steward of Ramsey will also be holding a newly designed flag of Hereward.  

Commemorations resume on Saturday (June 5) where another re-enactor Simon Payne takes on the role of Prior Athelwold and will push the Hereward Charity Challenge trophy in a medieval cart. 

Leaving Ely at 10am, he aims to pass through Chatteris at 1pm and arrive at Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse at 4pm.  

There will also be a chance to learn more about this period in history on June 19, which has been coined Celebrate the Fens Day. 

Re-enactor Nigel Amos will perform the role of Abbot Turold, the Norman Abbot of Peterborough, who will pick up the trophy at Ramsey Abbey and transport it on horseback to Peterborough Cathedral.  

Leaving at 10am from the gatehouse, he will stop at Pondersbridge for an hour at 12noon before arriving at Peterborough Cathedral at 4pm.  

To find out more about the challenge or to donate to ManHealth, visit the event's Facebook page

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