Guild Master from2000 until his death in 2018. Without whom none of this would be here
Ewart Oakeshott -
The following was written by John Waller, Guild Master.
Honoured member of the Guild
Ewart can arguably said to be one of the greatest influences on the current resurgence of interest in European historical combat skills.
In 2002 Ewart and Sybil were Honoured guests at The Guilds Annual seminar, At The Royal Armouries museum in Leeds. We were lucky enough that with him came some of the swords from his collection, which Guild members were able to handle without gloves, a rare privilege with weapons of that age. It was decided that making Ewart an Honoury member would reflect his position in our esteem. He would be made the one and only Honoured member of the Guild.
I knew and admired Ewart Oakeshott for nearly forty years, we were I believe kindred spirits. In some ways we were so different, but there was a bond which connected us, a love of swords. He loved swords with a great passion all his life, he knew the heft of a sword as soon as he took in his hand, it sang to him.
One of my fondest memories of our friendship is from the early seventies, when Sybil and Ewart lived at" High Dering" in Sussex. I was one of a small group who called ourselves "The Swordsmen", this was a sword loving dining club. The members and our wives, would meet periodically at" High Deering". Sybil would cook and oversee dinner, which was always superb, and the wine good and drunk out of glasses on which was engraved "The Swordsmen" and with our names. At each end of the table sat Sybil and Ewart. After dinner the table was cleared and the ladies left the men to their brandy and cigars. Then came the reason for our gathering the members placed on the table their newest treasures. The sword was then discussed, past around and its story told. When it got to Ewart and he held it in his hand, this benign looking man seemed to grow. Although all there had a love of swords, it was not the love that Ewart had. He would hold the sword as if it was an old friend that he had not seen for a long time. Taking it in his hand he held it like a warrior, not a collector or an academic.
One of the things that some people will not know is that Ewart was also a very good artist, as the illustrations in his books and the paintings at Sybil's and his home in Ely will attest. He was a many faceted man, who gave of his Knowledge to all that asked. His books have inspired generations and awoken in them a love of arms and I'm sure will continue to do so to any that are lucky enough to read them in the future.
Amongst all the memories I have of Ewart , this is the last and most special .
At the European Historical Combat Guild's annual seminar at the Royal Armouries on August the tenth 2002, something special took place that affected all that witnessed it.
Ewart was to be made Honoured member of the Guild, but just a couple of weeks before he had taken a bad fall, which put him in hospital. He insisted that he would get out and be there, and he did and was.
He arrived with Sybil, they were both in wheel chairs accompanied by two of their dedicated helpers Esther, Grahame her husband and Chris Poor. After dinner, I pushed Ewart to the centre of the dining area, where after a few words from me, he was presented with his Honoured membership. He then said he would like to say a few words, but he was not going to speak sitting down. So with help from Esther and myself he struggled to his feet and spoke. You had to be there to see this old frail man rise in his pride
There are all sorts in the Guild, some of whom are very tough men, but all those who saw him that night, were deeply affected by Ewart's courage.
He was a special man, who I loved and honoured and whose like we shall not see again.
Don't grieve you that knew him, just be glad that you had the good luck to have met such a man, and I'm sorry for those of you that didn't.
Remember when you read some puffed up academic talking about swords, just think about Ewart.
This is a poem of his, on the last page of his book" Sword in Hand "
Survivors beyond memory
Old things and rare my treasures are.
Times folded gates, fast closed to me,
These lonely sentinels unbar.
Years do not weary them, nor mar
Their power of ancient wizardry;
Things old and rare my treasures are
Enchantment seeking memory.
Scarred wreck of long forgotten war
Austere, unchanging, silently
Dream, and the drums faint and far
Arouse the blazoned years for me.
Enchantment wakens memory;
Old things and rare my treasures are.
That says it all.
See you later old friend, keep a place at the table for me. Love John
Fulvio who owns and runs DEL TIN ARMI ANTICHE COMPANY has been making accurate high quality reproductions of selected old weapons and armour since 1965 in their workshop in Maniago, northern Italy. The intention has always been to produce replicas that should be in no way be inferior to their originals. This has led him to study numerous originals in museums and private collections. It has also lead him to study other sources, both literary and pictorial, to produce arms and armour for which no surviving examples survive.
His weapons are in the collections of private Collectors and museums world-wide. This includes The Royal Armouries Museums in the UK. Also his weapons and armour have been shown in numerous educational exhibitions. At The Armouries his weapons are used for the historical Combat Interpretations, developed by John Waller, The Guild Master.
It was during the development program for the purpose built museum in Leeds, that John Waller, Creative Director of The Armouries, first met Fulvio. The weapons Fulvio produced were the only ones that met the standards of appearance and durability for use in combat interpretations demanded by The Armouries. Del Tin weapons have been used by The Armouries ever since.
For these same reasons, Del Tin weapons are recommended by the Guild and most Guild members now own and regularly use his weapons in their training. They are also used by numerous other groups researching historical combat, in Europe and across the world.
In 2003 Fulvio was invited to attend the Guilds Annual seminar at The Armouries in Leeds. There it was the pleasure of the Guild Master to make Fulvio an Honoury member, in recognition of his work in the field of arms and armour. The Guild was honoured when Fulvio, took the Guild motto, Above all honour, as the motto of Del Tin Armi Antiche, which can now be seen on the Company’s Arms.+