Marketing Gloucester and Gloucester BID are on the lookout for someone to play the role of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians in a public ceremony inspired by this remarkable woman who took the fight to the Vikings during one of England’s darkest hours. On Saturday 9 June, the city will witness an Anglo-Saxon inspired funeral procession, where Aethelflaed’s body will be carried on a boat and met on the North Quay of Gloucester Docks by her retinue before being carried through the ancient streets she laid out, to her final resting place at St Oswald’s Priory. The ‘funeral’ re-enactment is part of the city’s 1100th anniversary commemoration of Aethelflaed’s death.
Aethelflaed was the daughter of King Alfred the Great and grew up in a time of when the Vikings were at the height of their power in England. Married to Aethelred until his death in 911, she became the sole ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia in the early tenth century and a queen in all but name. She re-fortified Gloucester and many other settlements, successfully defending them from Viking raids. She ruled from the Royal Palace at Kingsholm and built the Golden Minster (now St Oswald’s Priory) where she dedicated the relics of St Oswald after rescuing them from deep with Danish territory. She captured the Viking strongholds of Derby, Leicester and even York, a city synonymous with the Norse raiders, surrendered to her might. Along with her brother, Edward the Elder of Essex, she laid the groundwork in establishing what was to become England. She died on 12 June 918 aged around 50 and was buried in Gloucester. Her nephew, Aethelstan, who was raised by Aethelflaed, became the first king of all England in 927 until 939 when he passed away in the Royal Palace in Gloucester.
Aethelflaed has been described as “tall and flaxen haired” though there were few contemporary depictions of her. Those looking for a point of reference would do well to check out the young Aethelflaed portrayed by actress Millie Brady in the joint BBC/Netflix epic The Last Kingdom based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell. The first and second season are available for streaming now on Netflix. There is also a stained-glass window depicting her in St Andrews Church in Churchdown and a statue of her with a young Aethelstan outside Tamworth Castle.
If you would like to be considered for the role of Aethelflaed or would like to nominate someone, send in a photo and complete the application form to be received by Friday 25 May. Forms can be requested by emailing – or collected from the Tourist Information Centre, Southgate Street.
They must be able to be easily carried in the procession,
must live in Gloucester / Gloucestershire,
must be available for clothes fittings in early June,
must be available for rehearsals in early June,
must be available all day on Saturday 9 June,
must be happy to be included in the publicity such as news, radio and TV.
Jason Smith Chief Executive of Marketing Gloucester commented “following the huge success of the Henry III reenactment in 2016 we are looking forward to similar success with the commemoration of Aethelflaed one of the most important women in English History. It promises to be a really interesting spectacle and great fun”
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org call 01452 207020.