This Saturday the Blood and Sand entertain Ampthill and District.
Medieval Bedfordshire was home to several religious houses, perhaps the best known being Woburn Abbey. With the Dissolution of the monasteries, Woburn was given by Henry VII to his courtier John Russell, who was also made Earl of Bedford.
In the Civil War Bedfordshire was strongly Parliamentarian, Francis Russell the 4th Earl was a leading spokesman in the Parliamentary cause in the Lords. However his son John was a Colonel in the King's army. He was also a member of the original Sealed Knot - the secret society that worked for the restoration during the Interregnum, after which the modern reenactment society is named. There was little fighting in Bedfordshire, though the King's army did burn the town of Woburn.
Francis Russell also had the piazza at Covent Garden built and organised the digging of the Bedford Levels to drain the Fens. Francis's other son William fought on both sides. He did return to the Lord at the restoration but had to withdraw from public life when his son was implicated in the Rye House Plot - a Protestant plot to kill Charles II and his brother James on the way back from the races at Newmarket to prevent James succession. With the Glorious Revolution, William was made Duke by William and Mary and carried the sceptres at their joint coronation.
The Russells continue to own Woburn Abbey to this day. Although in 1955 faced with severe death duties the 13th Duke considered giving it away to the National Trust. Instead, he decided to open it to the public himself, later adding a safari park.
Although Ampthill are league leaders, the squad do know we can beat them. We won the fixture over in Bedfordshire 6-13. While conditions were better than last season they were still extremely wet and windy, making handling difficult. Hence we had an abrasive game with the only try coming from Alex Rayment who fly hacked a loose ball and somehow managed to gather it from under the defenders noses and score.
Ampthill II are third in the Zoo Shield. The 2nd XV will remain top of the table whatever the result - but they have the next two weeks off, so will want to revenge themselves in order to open a gap on the chasing pack.
The 3rd XV do not have a match - matches in the Eastern Counties Plate restart on February 9th. They are facing Ipswich II, Bury St Edmunds III, North Walsham II and Norwich Medics. They also carry forward the results against Shelford III.
Updated 19:13 - 24 Jan 2019 by Marcus Streets