The harness post.

The other set of photos we got on the weekend at Lesne Abbey Woods was of the new harness from Martin Bevan and some with the poll axe from Josef Dawes. It was also a brief opportunity to move around a little more vigorously in the harness and make sure there was nothing amiss.

By chance as we were getting these shots, there was a professional model and couple of photographers getting shots beside us, so I’m hoping to get some even better photos at some point from them. Meanwhile, we took photos as the arming progressed, and a few of me waving a sword or the axe about. Bo the dog was initially alarmed by this, but concluded that it was some sort of game, and happily ran around while I rattled after him – he was not entirely sure about the noise of the harness, but seemed to enjoy the game.

This was also an opportunity for Body Servant Bob to practice getting the harness on, which involved quite a lot of cursing and muttering, even though she they did a great job with poor direction. Some day I will manage to stand still and let her them do it, rather than trying to help, which I know from experience does not work.

IMG_2806Working from the bottom up, for the time being I will use the Historic Enterprises hose and the linen petti-coat that I made, underneath the harness. The hose I will eventually replace with something better fitted and of lighter cloth, but they will do for the time being – I would prefer to have a dedicated pair of hose for this as I can leave them pointed to the petti-cote rather than mucking about switching the better hose from a doublet when I need to harness up. Generally during WOTR Fed events we are stressed enough for time that is one thing I do not want to burn time doing. The only real problem with the hose is that they are fairly loose fitting, which leaves a lot of fabric to try to squeeze into the greaves. As I discussed in the previous post, I also might make some more shirts, with collars, as I found that the mail standard was rubbing my neck unpleasantly.

IMG_2820The arming doublet was from Martin as well, and needed adjustment to tighten it. This was the thing I was most nervous about with the fit, as the doublet is instrumental in making the rest of the harness work. It’s not completely clear in this photo, but the lower part of the doublet is fitting very snugly around my hips and gut, effectively forming a broad corset from which to suspend the leg harness. It possibly could have had a little bit more taken out of the small of my back, but as it stands the armour sat solidly and did not slip around, meaning the doublet is working exactly as it should. The doublet is linen throughout, and largely hand sewn.

IMG_2844One thing I very much like about the harness is these enormous Italianate shoulders. They make me look like I have a broad back and muscles. Body Servant Bob was concerned that the harness looked like it was twisted or sitting crooked at times, but it is actually me that is crooked – looking at the photos we got emphasised that because my right knee is a bit weak, I often put my weight over my left leg and let the hip cock, even when standing still. It’s a bad habit I need to break, as if I do that for any length of time in harness my back will kill me.

IMG_2847The coif looks terrible in this shot, but it’s truly not that bad. I knocked up a padded coif by essentially sewing about 12 layers of coarse heavy linen inside one linen coif, then sewing another linen coif inside it to make a thick linen sandwich. Because I’ve not worn it in anger, it still looks lumpy and misshapen, but it will smooth out after a couple of wears. I might not leave the ties on the coif – or simplify them – as they stick out from under the helmet like a bow tie, which defeats the dignity.

And finally the full ensemble. The harness is somewhat old-fashioned for late 15th C England, and is more or less an Italian export. I know that Martin took the harness from an original source when he made it for himself, so I need to dig up where it came from. Despite it being old-fashioned, it’s the sort of thing an older gentleman would hold onto, so I’m comfortable with it being reasonably feasible for the late 15th as much as mid 15th. Who needs to be fashionable?


The articulation and mobility is excellent, although you wont see me doing cartwheels or pushups in it. For one, it’s 37.5 kg in total excluding the weight of my clothes, and for second, I don’t do cartwheels or pushups at any time. While I won’t have the absolute flexibility I have during blossfechten, I will definitely be able to use a longsword with this kit, as long as I remember the things which will be slightly clumsier. As an example while it was pretty easy for me to get my thumb onto the blade to do a zwerchhaw, the hilt sometimes got a bit tangled with the metal of my gauntlet. This will probably become easier when and if I wear gloves instead of bare hands, and short term I will continue to just wear the leather riggers gloves. As a point of interest, the only thing I was not able to do comfortably was wind up to ochs on my right side with both hands, although I could drop the left hand off and get it up there.


The action shots with the axe did not work out so well, so I’ll have to get some later. Meanwhile this final shot illustrates the size of the axe against me, and the appearance with the visor closed. Despite appearances vision with the visor down is not too bad – about the same and possibly better than when I’m wearing my sallet, but I will need to re-learn how to see out the breaths in the visor to avoid walking over small children. As with the sword, it was evident that it will be more comfortable moving the axe when I am wearing gloves, but otherwise it was fluid and easy to use.


There are a few things to note in this image that need addressing sooner or later. First you can see there’s a fair amount open under the arm and inside the arm, for which the obvious solution is the period one: mail voiders under the arm and possibly inside the arm. This is not top priority, and I will probably leave that until 2017 to address. With the axe in play, the arms are not particularly vulnerable, and I’m not concerned for safety. One thing I will address though as soon as possible is the mail skirt that should be with this – I’d forgotten that I need to put a belt on it, and so cannot wear it yet. Once done that will the gap to protect my inner thigh and other sensitive bits.

As mentioned above, I will tinker with the coif laces to get rid of the unfortunate bow-tie look. I may discard them altogether, as I found once the helmet went on the combination of helmet and coif did not shift on my head at all, making the laces somewhat redundant. Another side effect of the laces having a fairly bulky bow is that they pushed the top of the mail standard down a little, potentially leaving a very thin gap between the mail and the helmet, which is a bad thing. I do need to tinker with the standard as well – and possibly try the other slightly longer standard I picked up during 2015 – as I found that it rubbed the side of my neck a lot, and for extended wear would probably tear the skin. Partially this should be addressable by having a shirt with a collar, but I will experiment with a scarf, or else put a lining in the standard. Or both.

Thus, I wind up with more to go on the to-do list:

  • finish mail skirt
  • tinker with coif
  • tinker with standard
  • get better gloves
  • add mail voiders