Margery’s Turret Talk

La maith duit, Good day to you in Irish Gaelic.

In my last blog, I spoke of the many topics I would cover over the next year or so. Then I thought, in what order shall they go ? Should I start with gardening since I love digging in the soil, historic sites, since I am a flight attendant and have been to many medieval sites,  or the decorative arts. So many roads to travel, but where to begin ? Then it hit me. I was working a flight last Wednesday from Chicago/O’Hare to New York/LaGuardia. As we were on our final approach we flew over a site in upper Manhattan which I had flown over many times, as well as visited numerous times in my life. While enjoying the place, I never really gave it a second thought.  I knew it like the back of my hand. That’s when it hit me. I was gazing down as we passed over The Cloisters Museum. That’s what my first official blog would be about.

The Cloisters museum in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City, specializes in European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts, with a focus on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Governed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it contains a large collection of medieval artworks shown in the architectural settings of French monasteries and abbeys. Its buildings are centered around four cloisters—the Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem, Bonnefont and Trie—which were purchased by American sculptor and art dealer George Grey Barnard, dismantled in Europe between 1934 and 1939, and moved to New York. They were acquired for the museum by financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Other major sources of objects were the collections of J. P. Morgan and Joseph Brummer.

The museum’s collection of artworks consists of approximately five thousand individual pieces. They are displayed across a series of rooms and spaces, mostly separate from those dedicated to the installed architectural artifacts. The Cloisters has never focused on building a collection of masterpieces, rather the objects are chosen thematically yet arranged simply to enhance the atmosphere created by the architectural elements in the particular setting or room in which they are placed.

The building is set into a steep hill, and thus the rooms and halls are divided between an upper entrance and a ground-floor level. The enclosing exterior building is mostly modern, and is influenced by and contains elements from the 13th-century church at Saint-Geraud at Monsempron, France, from which the northeast end of the building borrows especially. It was mostly designed by the architect Charles Collens, who took influence from works in Barnard’s collection.

The Gothic chapel is set on the museum’s ground level, and was built to display its stained glass and large sculpture collections. The entrance from the upper level Early Gothic Hall is lit by stained glass double-lancet windows, carved on both sides.

The Fuentidueña chapel is the museum’s largest room, and is entered through a broad oak door flanked by sculptures which include leaping animals. Its centerpiece is the Fuentidueña Apse, a semicircular Romanesque recess built between about 1175 to 1200.

The Langon chapel is on the museum’s ground level. Its right wall was built around 1126 for the Romanesque Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Bourg de Digne. The chapter house consists of a single aisle nave and transepts taken from a small Benedictine parish church built around 1115.

Wonder to your hearts content, and be transported back in time to Medieval Europe (all in air conditioned or heated comfort, depending upon the season). Gaze upon Illuminated manuscripts, tomb effigies, room sized tapestries, carved furniture, stained glass windows, carved stonework, religious artwork & jewelry, paintings and so much more. When you have fully enjoyed the interiors, stroll through the many courtyards and loggias brimming with period plantings of trees, flowers and herbs. All set against a backdrop of the serene Hudson River of upper Manhattan Island to one side, and Fort Tryon Park to other side.

If you visit New York, I sincerely urge you to visit this absolute treasure.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this most extraordinary site. Please do include it in your travel plans. The next time you decide to visit NYC.

Yours in continued service to the shire and larger SCA community,

Margery Draper






Margery’s Turret Talk

Taobh amuigh, gaelic for outsider. One of the first words I learned from my maternal grandfather, Robert Allan. He was descended from the MacDonald clan of Glencoe. He arrived in America, or the colonies as he always called it, as a Scottish immigrant in 1919.  I must admit I felt like taobh amuigh many times in my life. I grew up in a military family. My father was an officer in the US Air Force. We moved many times during my childhood.

From K-12, I attended 3 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 2 high schools, all in 6 US states, and 4 countries. In my formative years we were living at Mildenhall Air Base in Suffolk (meaning southern folk), East Anglia England. Admittedly, I loved this experience the best.

I have known of the SCA for years, but didn’t know anyone involved. A lover of the Dark & Middle Ages and the Renaissance (mainly womens fashions and historic sites) I took the plunge.  I looked on facebook, found Caer Gwyn and thought they look like an interesting bunch. I’ll give them a chance.  Unlike many other times in my life, I immediately did not feel like a taobh amuigh, but a cara (gaelic for friend). I was welcomed with the gift of friendship, knowledge, and a sense of belonging. The point I’m trying to make is that I found a group of people that accepted me as I was…a big boy in a dress. No-one batted an eyelash. No-one questioned it.  You are treated not like taobh amuigh, but a cara.

I attended the last moot, and jumped at the opportunity to take over the roll of the Caer Gwyn Blogger. Never having written a blog before, there will be a learning curve. But I am up for the challenge. Each week I hope to provide my readers interesting short articles and pictures about such topics as herbalism, floriography, healers and witches, dance, middle ages travel, and a host of other topics that I hope you will enjoy reading.

Let us all strive in our daily lives to make those that feel like a taobh amuigh a cara

Thank you very much for taking the time to read the first blog.

Yours in continued service,

Margery Draper



Caer Gwyn receives Purple Fretty

Caer Gwyn's Purple Fretty scrollCaer Gwyn received the Award of the Purple Fretty from TRM A’Kos and Bella for their part in the Dragonshire event 12th Night/Festival of Maidens, 2019. Scroll by THL Cydeaux of Brittany. The award was granted at Better War Through Archery in Sternfeld, March 30, 2019.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered at the event and helped contribute to this honor!

Upcoming Activities: A&S Night, Lady Day Moot

Monday Jan. 29: 6 – 9 PM, Make and Take Sewing with Reyni-Hrefna
Illini Union, 1401 W Green St, Urbana, IL 61801

This month, join Reyni-Hrefna at the Union as she teaches Make and Take Hand Sewing.

There will be some fabric and needles for a class teaching everyone how to assemble a small drawstring pouch.  You could even put sewing tools into the pouch when you’re done – bonus!

Feel free to bring your own project as well, or any hand-sewing questions you’ve got in mind.

Next weekend: Lady Day Moot
500 Broadway Avenue East, Mattoon, IL  61938

The Lady Day Moot for the Barony of Caer Gwynt – all are welcome to join in the celebration! There will be rapier and heavy sword fighting, arts and sciences, a potluck dinner, medieval games, and a great day of socializing!

Upcoming Activities: Courting on the River and Lady Day Moot!

February 24: Courting on the River in Moline, IL
1201 13th St, Moline, Illinois 61265

Courting on the River is a fun event in the Quad Cities area with feasting, fighting, fiber arts, and more; there’s something for everyone.

March 4: Lady Day Moot in Mattoon
 The Lady Day Moot is one of our larger quarterly local group gatherings; this time we’re in Peterson Park in Mattoon. We’re planning a potluck, an Arts and Sciences championship, and more! (The level of indoorness vs outdoorness will depend on the weather.) See the Facebook event posting for more information.

Lady Day Moot March 4

All are welcome to join in the celebration at the Lady Day Moot for the Barony of Caer Gwynt! There will be rapier and heavy sword fighting, arts and sciences championship, a potluck dinner, medieval games, and a great day of socializing! Garb optional — wear what makes you happy.

Sunday, March 4 | 12 PM – 6:30 PM

Peterson Park, 500 Broadway Ave, Mattoon, IL 61938 | Map

Potluck: Officers are encouraged to bring an entree, while members of the general populace are encouraged to bring a side, dessert, or drink.

Find the most recent information on the Facebook event page > 

Congratulations to Caerfolks!

Several of our Caerfolks received awards this weekend at Festival of Maidens:
Lady Elizabetha Schlaeffer von Wurttemburg – Master Gunnarr Alfljot’s Laurel Prize Tourney
Lady Alise – AoA
Lady Arianna Blackfell – AoA
Lady Carol of St. Carol – Dragon’s Barb
His Lordship Oswyn of Bathon – Evergreen
Congratulations, and HUZZAH!!

Coming up: Festival of Maidens, regional combat practice, and more!

This weekend is one of our biggest events of the year!
  • This SaturdayFestival of Maidens at the University Armory
  • Saturday Evening: The After-Party at Eastland Suites with a concert by Bardic Storm
  • SundayMaidens Sunday Practice at the Stock Pavilion
  • Monday night: Arts and Sciences at the Illini Union – Make Your Own Gouache, Mk 2
  • Next weekend: Back to our regular schedule 
Contact methods
Our Facebook group is the most active place to keep in touch with what we’re up to. You can also join our Meetup group or subscribe to our Google calendar by clicking the + Google Calendar button.
Saturday January 20, Festival of Maidens – 9 – 7(ish)
University Armory (NOT the Illini Union)
This is our 45th annual Festival of Maidens, and we’re bigger and better than ever! We’ve got a lot more floor space at the Armory for fighting, merchants, classes, dancing, and fun — and best of all, it’s right here in Champaign-Urbana, so you won’t need to plan for multiple hours of driving to another end of the state (or another state entirely!)
The full schedule, including heavy and rapier fighting schedules and a wide array of arts and sciences classes, is available at
Let us know if you’d like to borrow loaner garb – we have an array of sizes for men and women!
Saturday January 20, After Party including Bardic Storm Concert – 8(ish) to Midnight
Eastland Suites
Didn’t get enough of the festivities during the day? Want to hear medieval music in concert? This year’s Maidens After Party includes a concert by Bardic Storm! See the Facebook event for more details.
Sunday9 am – 5 pm: Rapier, Archery, and Heavy Combat (plus general art hangout time!)
This Sunday we have the Stock Pavilion all day long for rapier, archery, and heavy combat practice (plus any arts and sciences you’d like to bring to work on in the stands!)
I’ve heard several people mention “darn it, we’re busy Saturday” — if Sunday is better for you, come get a taste of Maidens Lite! We won’t have the royal pomp and circumstance, but we will have the ability to play all day.
If we come up with more specific timing, it’ll be noted at the Facebook event.
Monday Jan. 227 – 9 PM, Arts and Sciences Night (Featuring Make your Own Gouache and Shell Gold)
Illini Union (exact room TBD but probably on the 4th floor, check Facebook for updates)

Since I’ll be teaching gouache and shell gold on Saturday and I’ve heard from some folks that they’d like to learn but Saturday isn’t an option for them, I’m planning to offer a rerun at Arts and Sciences Night on Monday.
You can totally bring your own project too!
Next Sunday the 28th1 – 4 pm: Rapier Practice
Stock Pavilion. 1402 W Pennsylvania Ave, Urbana. (Outside if weather permits; inside if it rains)
This is our weekly rapier fight practice – every Sunday at this time and location. This is open to people of any skill or athleticism level. An instructor will be on hand teaching an intro/beginner course followed with one-on-one instruction, as well as loaner swords and protective equipment.
There will be instructional drills as well as free sparring – so you’ll learn how to swing a sword, then get a chance to do it! Males should wear an athletic cup, and both genders should wear sufficient clothing to leave no bare skin below the waist (long pants, tall socks, closed toe shoes). If you have any questions about attending, or are intending to bring someone under the age of 18 to learn, please contact Ursus at

Pizza, Princess, and Poking January 14!

Scene from The Princess Bride, via TheCHIVE
Scene from The Princess Bride, via TheCHIVE

January 14, we’ll be preparing our new and returning fencers for another Festival of Maidens – and celebrating with pizza and The Princess Bride!

Shire members, friends, family, and significant others are all invited and more than welcome to join us after practice (4pm) in the Stock Pavilion for free pizza and the best movie ever made.

Party on, Caer Gwynt!

Our Yule Moot was a huge success! Plenty of people showed up to fight rapier, shoot archery, learn how to make scroll cases, eat delicious food, exchange gifts, and generally have a great time.

Coming up next:

  1. Festival of Maidens 
  2. Lady Day Moot – March 4, 12-6:30pm – 500 Broadway Ave, Mattoon, IL 61938-4426 (same place as our previous Mattoon moots) – Facebook event
  3. Midsummer Moot – June 10 in Champaign (Location TBD) – Facebook event