History Society Winter Ball

On Thursday 17th November, three members of the Her Campus Durham team headed to Lumley Castle for the famous, and highly anticipated  Durham University History Society Winter Ball!

The evening began with some medieval mingling, accompanied by a glass of red wine on arrival and opportunities to have professional photos taken. It was lovely to see a mix of historians and non-historians alike, and a range of year groups – freshers through to PHD students.

After the drinks reception had finished the true Elizabethan part of the evening began! After a short speech by our compere for the evening, dressed in a fantastic Elizabethan costume (complete with garters!) we were all lead into the Great Hall for our medieval feast!

Five courses later, after endless amounts of Elizabethan theatre, and copious amounts of mead, it’s fair to say that the three hours we spent dining together were thoroughly enjoyable!

To begin with, a little panto-esque act from our compere and the court jester introduced us to Lumley Castle and explained the evening’s proceedings. Whilst this was going on, I slowly noticed the very basic layout of cutlery on the table – quite simply, just a knife. A little worrying!

We were then informed that – in true medieval style - we would be eating this meal without any cutlery – beyond difficult would surmise that challenge! BEYOND difficult!

After we had been bibbed (yes, genuinely) we were served the first course – a steaming bowl of vegetable broth. The technique, once mastered, worked well! The trick was to use the large chunks of bread we’d been given as a sort of surrogate spoon (I was very grateful at this point to be wearing a bib!). The second course was a fish dish – a piece of cod, served in a cheese sauce with a creamy mash! Beyond delicious, but eating it with a knife proved difficult, and very inelegant to say the least!

Next, ribs – absolutely perfectly cooked, literally falling off the bone – delicious! But again, very messy eating it with your hands! Then we finally (finally!) reached the main course – a jacket potato served with garlic butter and a chicken leg or wing. It was getting to the point in the evening when many had perhaps taken the unlimited option of mead a little liberally, so eating was becoming even more of a messier challenge!

Finally (and feeling very full at this point!) we reached dessert – Queen Elizabeth’s favourite sweet dish – apple crumble! Thankfully we were given a spoon for this one – I’ve never been so grateful at the sight of some cutlery in all my life. Served with cream, it was a yummy end to a lovely long meal!

Throughout there was endless entertainment – we were treated to a performance from the Lumley bagpiper, an extract from Romeo and Juliet, and various songs, including a chorus everyone had to sing before proceeding to the next course!

A fantastic evening was had by all – Charlie, Jess and I all had a great time – and we had a good dance together during the ‘dungeon rave’ that followed the dinner!

One of the best experiences I’ve had at Durham so far. A fantastic evening.