Beginner's dictionary

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A Beginner's Dictionary Guide to the ECWS By Milton Boswell, Lexicographer to the Latin Secretary to the Commonwealth

Although new members may be familiar with the C17th and its terminology, there are some aspects of life in the ECWS and Fairfaxes that may need some er, explaining... read on.


Cindy Holton. If any small soldiers (or regiments) have a problem then she knows how to fix it. Also known as HBC or Handy Bendy Cindy. There’s a story there somewhere.

Army Council

CO’s meeting wherein the army is run with awesome military efficiency. Also a place where Lord Of The Rings is discussed ad nauseam and the LG (qv) is wound-up big style at his election time...


The Trayne of Artillery to be precise. Everything from pipsqueak little Falconets that you trip over, to ‘Barak’, a 2 tonne Demi-Culverin and largest ECW cannon in use in Europe. Rattles armour at 50 paces and sets off car alarms at half a mile.


Pronounced like a character from ‘Darling Buds of May’. Interpreted to mean ‘Is it an accurate copy of an item that was carried/worn/used by somebody resident in the British Isles between 1639 and 1660?’ Treated as an expletive by some re-enactors.

Bag Pudding

Pronounced ‘Bag Poooding’ in the style of the intro to Blackadder. An artery-hardening, fantastic culinary product much beloved by Fairfaxes and made famous by Mrs T aka Auntie Angela, wielder of the the Ladle of Doom (qv) and lately Fox's Nikki, now the subject of multiple-verses in song. The only thing that gets the soldiers moving quickly, until they’ve eaten it, then they can’t move at all.

Banquet and AGM

Annual event, scene of great revelry, too much speechifying from the regimental COs, awarding of awards, dancing, singing and hangovers. The AGM the next morning is usually very quick and very quiet. That’s how to stay in power. Although it is a chance to wear outrageous modes, those in the know realised that you’d only end up spilling beer and food over yourself.

Barney The Dinosaur

Purple-hued Devereux's representative at any ECW related Committee. What more can you say?

Barton Pasha

Tony Barton. Long-standing member of the ECWS, font of all knowledge on C17th things and general renaissance man. Sometimes seen in bizarre Ottoman Turk modes, hence the name.

Beer Tent

A gleaming white pavilion emitting the (occasional) sound of live music, generators to power the lights and raucous laughter. The cognoscenti know to pitch their tent far enough away to be out of earshot of the band, the lights and the sound of the generators, but not so far that you can’t find your way to your tent. Often manned by ‘Mad Monks’ (I kid ye not). Usually has all your alcoholic and soft drink needs, but wet weather makes the inside floor interesting and causes people to trail off to the local pubs.

Blue Meanies or Oxford Blues

Properly known as the Oxford Company. An amalgamation of Pennyman's, Hopton's, Lundsford's and Grenville's Regiments of Foot. All royalists in light blue, based upon a 1643 Oxford based regiment. Contains vast numbers of huge pikemen. ‘Nuff said.

Bombed Up

When musketeers get their gunpowder issue and are hence loaded with explosives.

Button Counters

Witty Fairfax name (or rather a very small subset of Fairfax) name for Devereuxs. Apparently it’s something they do.

Castle Greyskull

The large pavilion that the Oxford Company (qv) appear from in the mornings. Usually discharged from a ‘Salford Van Hire’ truck and always erected before anybody else arrives. Legend has it that entering it leads to assimilation into the Blue Meanies (qv). The van carries assorted boxes which allegedly contain heads, bodies, limbs etc. which are assembled into pikemen.


What are supposed to be left all over the field if you stick 1000 armed people in a field who don’t like each other. However, the vagaries of the script (qv) not withstanding, not many people like to drive a long way just to lie in a field, but then again, some do. Hot weather (qv), on the other hand, has a miraculous effect. Also a term applied to Generall Foster (qv) when he challenges the Horse (qv). A few seconds later, he is inevitably carried off the field after trying to head butt a sword out of one of their hands. Colonel Foster (Mrs) (qv) then inflicts some verbal injuries. That’s what the 2ic was for.

Chinese Dentist Time

Two Thirty. Tooth Hurty - Geddit? When major musters used to start so that the former Fairfax's CO, Dave Rumble, could say that it started at CDT.


Term of gentle abuse – roughly translates as ‘lightweight’ or ‘big girls blouse’. Popularised by Devereuxs, much to the confusion of the other Fairfax regiments.


Chris Williams of Foxs Regiment. It involved Axes.


Nope, not fashionable clothes maker, but Charles Kightly, or Dr Kightly or Dr K or combinations thereof. Another fount of knowledge, burning musketeer, scary household steward and first LG (qv) of the RA.

Colonel Foster (Mrs)

Elene Foster, who is a teacher, and who tells us that we all know nowt. Formerly known as the ‘Brigade Commanders Commander’, ‘The [Devereux's] Power Behind the Throne’ and the wearer of ‘Carlotta Divine’ (that wig). Made appearances at Mapledurham and Battle Abbey and has been immortalised ever since. Manages to do what the whole of Grenville's Horse [usually] can’t do to Colonel Foster – keep him in his place.

Committee of Safety (CoS)

Supreme executive body within the RA. So important that in order to become regimental representatives people have to be bribed, drunk or beaten upon the soles of their feet first before they will attend. Fond of creating committees to investigate setting up committees.


Also known as ‘Wigwam’ or ‘Push.’ A subject of some emotive value. The practice of putting your pike into the air and running into each other, the resulting scrum resembling the said Native American abode. Not usually practiced by Fairfaxes, to the derision of certain elements of the KA and RA... but then we do have those lovely sharp drill pikes, and have worked out that the sharp spiky bit goes into the soft squidgy bits.


Name of some bloke that the public will have heard of and assume that you are one of his soldiers. He was second in command and Lieutenant General of Horse to Sir Thomas Fairfax when the so-called ‘New Model Army’ was formed.


The misguided notion that all of Colonel Nicholas Devereux's Regiment speak like their West Country CO, who knows the Krek Waiters Peek Bristle. Imitated by Yorkshireman Colonel Foster (qv) saying ‘Hello moi luvvvvverrrr’ in a loud squeaky voice, when any fule noe that it should be ‘Come ‘ere and let oi luv ‘ee’. Said by some to consist also of lots of obscure ex-military terms, like ‘Chod’ (qv).


Directions For Musters – the drill book showing the postures of pike and musket. 98% of officers own one, 43% have read it and 15% understand it.

Donkey Troopers

Derisory turn, often used by General Foster, to describe the Horse, especially Grenville's (qv) who are led by the one known as ‘Gennings’.

Eggy Greg or Eggy

Overton's Ensign, owner of the Mustard coloured (some contend it’s cat-puke) suit, also known as the Official Fly-Paper of the Battalia through its attraction to flying insects at Ostend. The name? Go stand near him for a while and you’ll find out. Allegedly this no longer applies as Claire has somehow tamed his emissions as part of the battle against global warming.

Eee Haitch

English Heritage (EH). Government body that is the custodian of most of the ruined castles that we get to play in. Sponsors of History In Action or the Festival of History, which is the mega-sized multiple-period event at Kelmarsh, Northants each year, which we get to go to. Where else can you attack a Tiger tank armed only with a pike or a water-bomb? They also seem adept at employing young blonde women, much to the entertainment of the soldiery.

Fairfax Battalia

In the ECWS, this consists of the regiments of Colonel Nicholas Devereux, John Fox, Robert Overton and Valentine Walton. ECW regiments were named after their COs. Fairfaxes are named after Sir Thomas Fairfax, first General of the army that was ‘Newly Modelled’ and oddly enough, usually referred to by contemporaries as The Army Under Sir Thomas Fairfax.


Description of someone who uses such a word. Derived from ‘Far be it for me to say...’ At which point you know that a lively debate will follow, usually about awfenticity (qv). Not unlike starting a conversation with the phrase ‘With all due respect...’. Retire fast.

Fire Fairy

Someone who assists the Sutler (qv), usually by chopping wood, poking burning sticks about and carrying vast cauldrons of water. Recognise them by the blackened faces and large bellies. Some say that they’re merely avoiding drill and getting to the food first...


The Fairfax Battalia (qv), for those who use email or text messages a lot. Or the plain idle.


Word allegedly uttered by the current Fairfax Battalia CO when he wants the musketeers to discharge their pieces. Listen to ‘Battlefield Britain’...


Faffing Regiments Around Pointlessly. Origin unknown, but its what the Script (qv) and LG (qv) often do. Substitute Faffing for other words depending upon how long it’s been and how hot/wet it is.

Funfinder Generalle

Mark Hargreaves. Also known as ‘Have no Joy Hargreaves’. A zealous convert from the cause of malignancy to that of the righteous and now a firm believer in the ideals of the Commonwealth. Suppresses things that the soldiers enjoy, such as the C17th footie at Kirby Hall.

General Foster

Formerly ‘Guy Astons Monster’. Also known as ‘Lardicon 1’, ‘Foster’, ‘Captain Cartman’, ‘The Great Bull of Halifax’ and other terms that denote great stature. Former CO of The Fairfax Battalia and know Lord General. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Dowager Dowager Dowager Colonel’. Ask him about the Klingon makeup. You can’t miss him.

Global Warming

Something that was supposed to lead to hotter weather in the UK. Hahahahahahaha!

Gun Guard

De Boye's Company of Foote. They guard the artillery on the battlefield. Seen in tawny yellow coats, often in some sort of 95th rifle type formation some distance ahead of the rest of the army.


Person smelling of gunpowder and usually seen wearing a wide evil grin and wide evil hat. They tend to shout a lot. Their head powder man doesn’t have all of his fingers. ‘Nuff said.

Gunpowder Grin

That strange smile that musketeers and Gunners (qv) have when they get to go BANG!


Horrible brown sacking stuff that people used to make side-bags from and probably underwear too. Used to hid inauthentic things at events, like radiators indoors and huge pieces of agricultural machinery outdoors.


A generic term for the Royalist (Grenville's) or Parliamentarian (Hungerford's) cavalry. Usually camped in their own little corner with their nags, complete with rows of 4x4’s and gazebos to drink Pimms under. Whatever side they’re nominally on, if you are in the infantry, anybody on a horse is the enemy. It’s a class thing.


Heard, Understood, Acknowledged! A phrase blagged from the US Marines and popularised by the film Heat. What you say to let the CO know that you’ve heard what’s been said.

Icenii Twins

Laura Heales and Ian McDonald, both possessing huge amounts of ginger tresses. Legend has it that if any more redheads join Devereux's there will be a critical mass and some sort of apocalyptic event.


Short for ‘Imperial Gazebo of Power’. A large brown linen shelter used as a beer shop or soldiers' hang-out. Assembled in one day at the Civilian Weekend at Broadheath, using forced labour (i.e. Tom Suett). Used at Sherwood 2011. The name is lost in obscurity. Now accompanied by the New iGOP or Mini iGOP.


One of a multitude of hilarious nicknames given to Hugh Logan, erstwhile CO of O’Neill's Company. (Just say ‘Hugh’ then swiftly follow with any anatomical name – a grown-up will explain)


Nickname given to anybody (formerly only Sergeant Bland) who doesn’t join the Levellers (qv) when they’re trying to overthrow Colonel Foster (qv) and his evil minions. Colonel Foster tried to popularise ‘Loyalty Bland’ but it didn’t catch on.


The Kings Army – the opposition that we get to play with. Commanded by one General Jonathon Taylor since the year dot, or ‘JT’ to all and sundry. Also former CO of Pennyman's (see Blue Meanies). Usually seen in light blue, white, black or off-red coats, depending on flavour.

Kevin From Devereuxs

No, not Kevin Cotgrave – he’s ‘Kev the Dev’ – keep up. A pseudonym adopted by Major General Kevin Fisher of the Parliamentary Staff whenever he gets into some sort of trouble. He must lead a quiet life ‘cos no-one has stormed up to the Devs CO and complained about his antics yet. Also a plaything of the Editrice. (qv)

King of The Ring

Sumo style contest between Comport (qv) regiments, practiced near to the beer tent at major musters in the early evening. Not entered by Fairfaxes, though we do like to trash all the infantry at the Tug-Of-War. (Winners at the held-once event in 2000)


Not a Simpsons TV star as some would suppose, well, not the yellow one anyway. Rather a member of Essex's (qv) regiment with a passing resemblance to said ‘Clown’ character. Has two sons called ‘Itchy and Scratchy’.

Ladle Of Doom

Wielded by Mrs T. when running the Sutlery. Used to keep everybody in line, especially those who complain that dinner is late or who try to eat in the wrong manner at the officers' table.


Political radicals within the New Model Army. An excuse for ECW re-enactors to wear green ribbons around arms, pamphlets in hats, ham it up and cause trouble for the officers. Always ends in tears and someone being put up against the wall and shot. Their estate then gets sent the bill for the gunpowder afterwards too.


The Lord General of the Roundhead Association (qv). Also called Large Gerbil, Hyse Excellency, Gerbilus Maximus (Latin) or just Steven. Former CO of Fairfax Battalia, now commander of all the forces raised, or intended to be raised... yada yada. Whether the plural of Lord General is ‘Lords General’ or Lord Generals’ is a subject of some conjecture.


Living History – demonstrations of C17th military and civilian life, sited within anything from a fully populated house or castle to a temporary military camp in a field consisting of soldiers lean-tos. This often resembles a squalid collection of mildewy canvas and some sticks. Demanding free quarter from the locals in true C17th style is frowned upon.


Helmet. Or to the militarily geeky, Morion, Cabaset, Burgoet etc.

Major Muster

This is/was ECW re-enactors' favourite event – the gathering of the whole ECWS for the recreation of a major battle, requiring a large campsite, larger battlefield and even larger beer tent. Organised by one or more KA or RA units so that the rest of us can have fun whilst they man the guard tent, put up signs, clean the site and generally work hard. There were always 4 a year in the past, membership was millions, etc etc. Often found on Bank Holiday weekends, when both sides get to win on one day each, unless we recreate an actual event, in which case tough luck KA (qv).

Meekins Enterprises

Term for Paul Meekins' (nee ‘Cut-me-own-throat’) vast merchandising empire, or anything where money can be made. Parts are subcontracted in some sort of tax-avoidance scheme to Pat Lovatt.

Mercurius Fredicus

Writer on current Devereux's events, often using the titles of songs by some obscure popular beat combo called ‘Queen’ to make his scribblings more entertaining.


Colonel Frame's black and red coat. Also a rather dashing space villain. Blamed when the CO is merciless (oppressing Levellers) as opposed to merciful (letting soldiers drill in shirtsleeves).


Fairfax term applied to someone who is regarded as ‘overly-keen’ on awfencik (qv) items. More gently known as Fashion Police or ‘Authenti-Nazi’. Often used when kit has to be inspected for important occasions such as filming. The author, however, agrees that some fashions should be suppressed. Did anyone mention petticoat breeches?

Naughty Boys' Hellfire Club

Join Fox's regiment, take the end off of your surname, replace it with a ‘Y’ and that’s how you identify a member. A select gang of the same were formerly famed for outrageous deeds, but the membership is now rapidly approaching respectability, marriage and middle age. Some even leave university, eventually.

Naughty Tent

Disappointingly, where the Sutler keeps all the Tesco carrier bags out of sight of the public.

Plastic Site

The ‘modern’ campsite, as opposed to the LH (qv) site at whatever event. Usually signposted all the way, but often the cause of divorce as you try and find it at 11:30pm, with the fuel gauge low and the kids crying out ‘Are we there yet?’. Place to pitch the tent (if it’s new and you’ve not put it up before, we’re talking divorce again) in a carefully chosen Feng Shui position between the beer tent, traders row and portaloos.


Two soldiers talking out of earshot of the CO. Three soldiers talking leads to the formation of a new society.

Pole Climbing

The practice of members climbing up the beer tent poles to the tent roof. Before they got too old, sometimes done, despite the threat of splinters, lacking a full complement of clothes by certain members of Winnies (qv). If you hear the Captain Pugwash theme, cover your eyes. Nowadays about as original as students placing road cones on the heads of statues.


Also known as a Tardis – found in serried blue ranks in various parts of the campsite. Those in the know find the obscure ones in corners, or on Friday night, the ones in the public area which will be unused until the audience arrives. Don’t camp between them and the beer tent. Tales concerning these are legion, and should be taken with a large dose of salt. There was a trailer-based set at Bushey Park once that really did have piped muzack, paintings and chandeliers in it though...


Usually asked by the relevant officer after giving a briefing, and the soldiers invariably come up with ‘Why don’t you see white dog poo any more?’ ‘Why do sky-divers wear helmets?’ and ‘Why don’t you see baby pigeons?’ Occasionally someone asks something relevant, like ‘What was that briefing bit again?’


Outrageously wide-bottomed breeches allegedly worn during the Commonwealth and Protectorate periods, and popularised (OK, he tries) by Mark Hargreaves, who inflicted a pair upon Mrs T. Requires half of the crew of the good ship Naseby to haul them in during a storm.

Regimental Rags

Regimental Newsletters, usually published quarterly. Such as ‘The Soldiers Standard’, ‘Rediviva’, ‘Eikon, and ‘The New Sletter’. There is also Tee-Aaar aka True Relation – the Fairfax Battalia rag, the ‘Scoute’ (or ‘Sproute’) which is the RA one.


Regimental Invited Event – an event where certain individuals or units are invited by the organisers, either because space is limited or they have particular skills. Don’t go if you ain’t invited! The ones you don’t go to are always the best events ever.

Rumour Mill

The Fairfax email Yahoo Groups discussion forum thingy. Used for announcements and ragging people after embarrassing escapades at a recent muster. Also for exposing scarily in-depth knowledge of Children's TV c. 1975. Rather overtaken by the young persons place, called Facebook.


A subject of much debate. Some people (usually the two Generals at a Major) contend that there always is one, but even if there is, somebody always gets confused about what is happening, being stuck on the wrong planet. One certainty is that the forces of good get to wait around for quite a while before the KA (qv) appear on the battlefield, especially if it is raining.

Seat of Power

General Foster's awfenick (qv) seat. Assembly is a real Crystal Maze test for some poor pikeman or other. When the seat isn’t level, the Colonel dribbles out of the lower corner of his mouth, causing much consternation at dinner.

Seat of Imperial Power

Colonel Frame's seat. That’s a wooden thing on legs, not his butt.

Silver Horde/Grey Horde/Crumblies/Captain Zimmer's Company

Term applied by the rank and file to the members of the now defunct Lord General's bodyguard. Consists of long-served members, usually Devs, ex-Devs or ex LG’s (qv) of a ‘mature’ status. Often found around ‘Twin Peaks’ (qv) amongst vast numbers of empty Claret bottles.


Colonel Foster's buffcoat. More correctly son of stinky as Lt. Col. Frame's one was born earlier, but then it doesn’t stink, except after a hot battle. Stinky is a monstrous white edifice with a battleship-like prow that is banished to airtight cupboards by Chairman Foster (qv) between outings. Keith Barron refused to wear it for the filming of ‘Dead Man Weds’.


Word uttered when anybody shows an interest in any obscure and small item of equipment. Interchangeable with ‘Linseed Oil’ and ‘Linen’. Immortalised by Pat Lovatt, purveyor of sundries to the soldiery. Characterised by bearded musketeers who ask if you’ve seen their new ‘brass tinderbox’ yet. Just nod and walk on.


Providers of free C17th food to all the soldiery at dinner times during LH events. By a miracle, stuff that you couldn’t get done on Masterchef is produced over open fires in all weathers, with the assistance of Fire Fairies and Potboys. The officers' only treat as they get to eat in real style – probably the reason why guard duty on the officers tent at dinner time is so popular. Should be called the kitchen, as the sutler was someone who followed the army and provided ‘extras’ that the soldiers could buy.

Tangos Regiment

A.K.A. The Earl of Essex's Regiment. So-called ‘cos of their ORANGE coats.

Taxi For General Foster

An ambulance.

Ted Cromwell

The true Lord Protector of England, being Oliver's younger brother, who had a taste for ‘fighting and big women’, and who, unlike Oliver, survived the Restoration with a large pension. Immortalised in a series of stories within the Standard and TR (qv) by the Right Reverend in God, AJ Scroate.


Armour, or B&B (back and breast)


The neophyte has to remember that there are certain inviolate rules concerning musters: the prime directive is that the best ones were always the further back in time you went, usually just before you joined, even if you’d been in the ECWS since 1873. Back then, there were always lots of them (at least 45 a year), the beer was cheaper/better/plentiful, the battlefield was steeper/bigger/more forested/more historical, the enemy more brutal/faint-hearted etc and the weather (qv) was always infinitely sunnier or wetter than it is now. So anything you’ve done can be ‘topped’.

Traders' Row

Sited near to the beer tent, jostling with the food vendors for space. Where to buy all those useful things like a tankard or a hotdog, along with lots of come-in-handy stuff, like that book on the role of the sheep shearers of Wiltshire in the Bishops' Wars. Whether the stuff available is Awfenick (qv) or not is another matter.

Twin Peaks

Also called ‘Crumblie Towers’. A monstrous pavilion formerly occupied by members of the Silver Horde (qv), decorated with carpets, hangings, chandeliers, nine-course dinners, ligging soldiers etc. etc.

Virginia Plantations

‘To discuss the Virginia Plantations’ being an invite to remove oneself and partake of tobacco. Something that is often discussed at events when the public are in earshot. Sometimes called ‘The burning bush’. The discussions take place in discreet corners so the fag smoke isn’t seen.


Collective name for members of Colonel Valentines Walton's regiment.


John Washbourne. Perpetual student, legend in his own lifetime and inveterate campfire drunk. Also former CO of Foxes regiment. Now a teacher. Can you believe it?


If you thought that Little Stinkwort last year was a hot muster, then back in ’74 at Old Bladderbury it was so hot that Bloggs’ armour melted. If it rained a lot last season, then at Nether Piddling in ‘85 the pikemen had to use their pikes as stilts to avoid drowning. You get the idea – see ‘Topping’. Sunny ones mean broken tent pegs, massive beer sales in the beer tent and lots of simulated casualties from real or pretended heat exhaustion. Very wet ones mean lost tent pegs, much towing out of cars, phutting of muskets, massive casualties as people skive off the field and drying of clothes back at home.


Phrase coined to describe the residents of obscure lonely muster locations where they don’t get out much. Hence ‘Window-licking land’. Since copied by The Simpsons.

Winfax/Airfix Battalia

Witty ECWS descriptions of Winchester's and Winnie's (qv) and Fairfax's combined.


Affectionate name for The Marquis Of Winchester's Regiment. Fairfax Battalias’ favourite opponent on the battlefield and at sieges. Watch out for the Burgundy suits and the legendary bearded one known as ‘Babbsy’. They do produce a nice range in fruit flavoured vodka though. PS They don’t like their coat colour being described as ‘Purple’ – it’s ‘Claret’ (not ‘purple’, oh no, definitely not).

Wiz n Liz

Dave Wilson and Liz Quaile. Wiz was developed from calling him ‘Wislon’ to avoid confusion with Dave Wilton (who?). Or the alternative was that he was called ‘Wizz’ because he didn’t...