Chapter chat: Swords drawn at launch of annual Scarva Sham Fight

Sovereign grand master, Rev William Anderson, attempts to keep King William (left) and King James apart ahead of battle at this year's Sham Fight in Scarva.
Sovereign grand master, Rev William Anderson, attempts to keep King William (left) and King James apart ahead of battle at this year's Sham Fight in Scarva.
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Scarva is set for another significant clash of the kings this summer.

Tens of thousands of people are anticipated to converge on the idyllic Co Down village on July 13 for what is one of the most colourful and enjoyable events in Northern Ireland’s cultural calendar.

Attendees enjoying the pre-Sham Fight reception in Scarva.

Attendees enjoying the pre-Sham Fight reception in Scarva.

The annual mock clash between King William and King James is now firmly established as a major tourist attraction.

The seminal battle is preceded by a large-scale loyal order parade, incorporating members of the Royal Black Institution and numerous bands.

This year, host preceptory, Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000, celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Its members make up the organising committee responsible for running the flagship event.

Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution, Rev William Anderson, launched the 2019 Sham Fight at Scarvagh House.

He said: “The Sham Fight at Scarva is undoubtedly one of the stand-out occasions of Northern Ireland’s summer.

“It is a wonderful event, organised by a local group of dedicated people, who ensure that the tens of thousands of spectators and the people taking part, can enjoy the day.

“We know that people keep coming back every year. But, for those who have never been – they are missing out on something really special.”

Worshipful master of RBP 1000, Craig Adair, said: “Scarva is truly an amazing occasion packed with music and pageantry, a day the whole family can enjoy and an event that attracts visitors from near and far.

“We are very proud to host the Sham Fight, on this our centenary year, and look forward to another memorable occasion.”

This year’s event at Scarva will see the return of a cultural field, with something for all the family, including musical entertainment, highland dancing and other activities.

New uniforms for King William and King James were formally dedicated at a service at the weekend.

The period costumes will make their first public appearance at this year’s Sham Fight.

The highly anticipated set piece between the two rivals at Scarva Demesne will follow the annual parade through the small village.

• Guests enjoy pre-event reception

A reception was held in Scarva last week ahead of this year’s Sham Fight.

Representatives of various organisations, including Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, the PSNI and St John’s Ambulance, joined members of the organising committee for the special event.

Also in attendance was the sovereign grand master, Rev William Anderson; county grand master, David Livingstone; and members of Tandragee, Markethill, Newry, Banbridge, Rathfriland and Lower Iveagh Black District Chapters.

Worshipful master of RBP 1000, Craig Adair, thanked all for attending and expressed his appreciation to all those who contribute to making the Sham Fight an annual success and a highlight of the summer.

Also speaking, Rev Anderson paid tribute to the organising committee, paying tribute to their sterling work in facilitating one of the largest annual outdoor events in Northern Ireland.

He also praised RBP 1000 and congratulated the preceptory on its centenary.