Waikato medievalist and historian Geoff Boxell is a long way from his formative years in the bomb-damaged south west of London.

These days on the other side of the world and in the quiet of Kihikihi, Geoff is the head of the Wulfing Household — a group of re-enactors and people who enjoy a shared fascination with the history and culture of England during the Middle Ages.

"I'd always been interested in history, my mother started me off. We were a working-class family on both sides but people who were well-read. When I was 7 or 8 I returned from school one day with a kid's book about the Crusades.

"I wanted to read more and mum got me an adult textbook from the library."

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The Boxells arrived in New Zealand in the days when people could immigrate from Britain simply by showing their British passport.

Geoff Boxell heads a group of re-enactors who share a fascination with the history and culture of England during the Middle Ages. Photo / Geoff Lewis
Geoff Boxell heads a group of re-enactors who share a fascination with the history and culture of England during the Middle Ages. Photo / Geoff Lewis

"My wife and I were a blessed generation. We missed the war and there was plenty of work. Land in New Zealand was cheap.

"I had an auntie in the Coromandel but there was no work up there. We found a home in Kihikihi and picked up jobs and we're still here."

Boxell's interest in medieval period re-enactment was "pure luck" as one thing led to another.

"I never intended to get into re-enacting. It was just happenstance.

"I was working at Waikato University running a masters' course in technical management and innovation and we were in the same area as Continuing Education. I was asked to be a guest lecturer.

"I did my first series of lectures on Who are the English? at Waikato (University) in the 1990s. I did three or four courses a year in Hamilton and Tauranga, from the Coming of the English to Oliver Cromwell — the English Civil War.

"I started to write an historical novel and was challenged by two senior lecturers to write academic papers on English history to prove the accuracy of what I had written. We had a lot of re-enactors come to my lectures and I was asked to tell stories at camps.

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Hand to hand fighting with traditional weapons includes competitive sword fighting. Photo / Geoff Lewis
Hand to hand fighting with traditional weapons includes competitive sword fighting. Photo / Geoff Lewis

On one occasion I was at a planning meeting for a camp and I was invited to try out some archery afterwards with the traditional English long bow, I enjoyed it. I thought, 'I'm going to buy a bow'."

Boxell has taken his interest in medievalism into print and is the author of several publications including Woden's Wolf a novel centred on the Norman Conquest, first published in 1996, which has since been reprinted twice.

After his retirement he wrote another around the French invasion of England in 1216 and then the Dark and Daring Deeds of Geffrey de Wulf.

His work in historical fiction includes three stories in one book around — Hengest, King Arthur and Beowulf.

He found a personal family connection with medieval times and formed a back-story around Sir Alan de Buxhall KG, who was at one time the Constable of the Tower of London to Edward III and Richard II.

Also a keen motorcyclist from the original Mods and Rockers era in Britain, Boxell is a member of the Ulysses motorcycle club. His first book was Just for Kicks about being a Rocker in London in the 60s, which has so far sold 1500 copies in New Zealand and overseas.

The Wulfing Household, which caters to about 15 members, belongs to the SCA — The Society for Creative Anachronisms, has just about a complete cross-section of New Zealand society — anyone with an interest in history and the Medieval era.

It focuses on the 14th century including non-lethal aspects of archery and hand to hand fighting with traditional weapons.

"I used to do competitive sword fighting. I was active in fighting until I was about 68 but I got too slow and I'd get injuries.

"A mate and I still do sword and buckler demonstrations. We'd know how to fight together so I didn't get too bashed around. It looks good and it is what we need to show people."

One of the Households' big events is the annual National Association of Ancient and Medieval Arts (NAAMA) which brings together a variety of re-enacting groups at its national convention where Boxell runs the archery events.

The Household also attends eight to 10 camps a year with the SCA and other re-enactment groups.

Anyone in the Waikato interested in medieval re-enacting or just traditional archery can contact Geoff on wendlewulf@xtra.co.nz