Why Captain Mervyn is dressed to impress at Landguard Fort
PUBLISHED: 12:32 17 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:43 20 February 2013
A former member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, <br/><br/>67-year-old Mervyn Lemon dresses as a 1667 marine to' fight' in military re-enactments at Felixstowe's Landguard Fort.
A former member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers,
67-year-old Mervyn Lemon dresses as a 1667 marine to fight in military re-enactments at Felixstowes Landguard Fort. He lives in the town with his wife Jill and has a daughter, Andree, and two grandchildren
Tell us about the history of the Fort.
Overlooking the Orwell Estuary, the fort has a long and rich history. It was built originally at the behest of Henry VIII.
The later fort of 1625 (made of turf with walls 30 feet thick) was the last fort in England to oppose a full scale invasion, when on July 2, 1667 (Julian Calendar), Captain Nathaniel Darell and 400 of the Duke of York and Albanys Maritime Regiment, with 100 gunners and 51 cannon, successfully repelled Admiral de Ruyters Dutch force of 2,000.
Since then the fort has seen many changes. The present brick fort was started in 1719 and completed in 1720, but then completely redesigned and rebuilt in 1744.
During the 19th century, Victorian engineers made massive improvements,
including the construction of a curved battery facing the river.
The main armaments for the fort were 12.5 and 10 inch rifled, muzzle-loaded guns. Beneath the casemates and gun positions are the magazines, a labyrinth of passageways, shell, powder and cartridge stores.
In collaboration with English Heritage, the Landguard Fort Trust took over the running and management of the fort in the autumn of 1998. The Trust runs a continuing programme which develops educational, interpretational and display materials within the fort.
How long have you been involved in these re-enactments?
For the past ten years Ive been involved in re-enactments for 95th Rifles 1815, Colonel Pickerings Regiment 1645, the Die Hards and, in 2005, the Dutch invasion 1667. We put on plays and events every year and are hoping to incorporate Royal Marine cadets and, in 2011, open a special room celebrating the Royal Marines.
Are the people who take part in these skirmishes from the locality?
Yes, we try to encourage locals to become involved and take part in the the re-enactments which incorporate live firing with guns and cannons.
Are they carefully stage-managed or can you ad-lib a little?
Gunpower firing is done under very strict safety measures. While the re-enactment players are carefully stage-managed, we do ad-lib a little with the public.
Any amusing incidents happen during a re-enactment?
In 2005, when the Dutch came to re-enact the Dutch invasion of 1667, due to a set of circumstances my car and house keys ended up in a Dutch bag of loo rolls in Felixstowe. The bag travelled to Holland and then had to be posted back to me!
What do you like about living in Suffolk?
The nice friendly folk, the weather and the sun. Then theres the bowls, and the sea air, and meeting up with my friends at the Fort. If I had to pick out a favourite haunt it would be Waldringfield; there is something about the quietness of the river and the scenery.
Do you have a favourite film, book and song?
My film would be Avatar . . . its the story, the special effects and the moral.
After my stroke, I am unable to read my books. The song would be Willie Nelson Always On My Mind because we men so often get things wrong!
Whats the best piece of advice you have been given?
Since my stroke, each day I try to appreciate people.
I try to work harder at improvement and enjoy my life to the full. No-one knows what is round the corner!
How can people find out more about the Fort?
Visit Landguard Fort, Felixstowe site of the last major opposed invasion of England and the first land battle for English marines in 1667 at www.marinesintights.org.uk