Bananas and pineapples are not what many would expect to find in the grounds of Birstall's Oakwell Hall.

But then neither would members of the esteemed Batt clan, who made the Elizabethan manor their home way back in 1583.

Returning to their quarters to prepare for a family wedding, they seemed very much at home when indulging in a special feast laid on by their servants, despite hearing the warning musket  shots of several parliamentarian soldiers, garrisoned and armed outside.

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A sense of tension hanging in the air due to John Batt's support for the Royalist side and the capture of their king, Charles I, they have just been  instructed to pay a heavy fine worth 10 per cent of the value of their whole estate as punishment by Parliamentarians, which could cripple the family unless they marry off John's daughter to a wealthy merchant, Major John Mallory.

They are just some of the intriguing sights and experiences that visitors can unearth and take part in at the living museum this weekend, which has been transported back to 1647, in the immediate aftermath of the first Civil War, thanks to the English Civil War Society.

 

The first large scale re-enactment to take place at the hall for several years, it is exploring every aspect of life there during the era with the help of over 30 dedicated members, who have ditched 21st century gadgets and clothes for period apparel, all of which has been made according to strict authentic patterns.

It has been an almost life-long fascination of one the society's  most veteran members, 68-year-old Charles Kightly, who has been touring up and down the country as everything from a house steward to musketeer since he became entranced by life during the Civil War period  when he was at university.

Full after polishing off the remains of the gentry's decadent lunch of raised pies and roasted meats with the rest of the servant team , he said: "It's just a fantastic thing to get involved with and demonstrate to others-it has taught me so much about how they lived and dispelled the myths that life in that time was rather unrefined."

He joined the rest of the party to set up a temporary manor court in the main hall, heavy with incense, to try several men who had been charged of committing several crimes on the estate and surrounding land.

Meanwhile the group's youngest member, 13-year-old Sarah Hunt, was enjoying her new role as a lady's maid and listening to the lutes being used to impress the major .

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One of only a handful of young members in the society, she said: "It's such a lot of fun-it's the best way to learn history and it would be great if more young people came and gave it a go."

One of the society's organisers, Ken Clayton, is already planning next year's event, which will see the erection of an entire Civil War camp in the grounds.

He said: "The support of the hall and enthusiasm of the visitors has been very heartening.

"Hopefully we have give people more of an understanding of how the hall would have functioned at the time in an intriguing and hands-on way."

The hall will be open tomorrow from 11am to 5pm and normal admission charges apply.