12 October 2014
The Joint Committee Meeting was held this year in France, and we all, 7 French and 10 English, convened at an auberge in a lovely old farm at Guînes, a village near Calais. It was good to see our French friends again. The meeting was held first and covered useful ground, deciding dates and making plans for future visits, and discussing any mutual difficulties. After this we all sat down to a convivial and excellent lunch (at our own expense!).
Some of us stayed overnight and had a fascinating morning discovering Guînes’ long history which includes about two hundred years occupation by the English who owned Calais and the surrounding area including Guînes. In 1520 the famous meeting of the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’ was held nearby when King Henry VIII and the French king, François 1, met to parley, feast and hold jousting tournaments with a view to preserving peace. It was a dazzling spectacle but fighting broke out again a year or two later and in 1558 the Duc de Guise liberated Guînes, and returned it to French ownership. The castle dating from the end of the 11th century was sacked so no further troops could be garrisoned there but the original motte created by Sigfrid is still there with its ancient stone tower on top.