Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

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Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Ariella Elema » 14 Jun 2012 20:19

I ran across this passage while looking for something completely different.

Among those who have done service to the stage is Mr. Walter Pollock, lately editor or the Saturday Review, who, among his other accomplishments, is a swordsman of no mean skill. He has friends with the same tastes, with whom he practices this elegant art, such as Mr. Egerton Castle, Captain Hutton, and others. It is not generally known that there is a club known as the Kerneuzers, whose members are amateurs enragés for armour and swordsmanship, many of whom have fine collections of helmets, hauberks and blades of right Damascene and Toledo.(1) Mr. Egerton Castle and others of his friends have written costly and elaboate works on fencing, arms, and the practice of the arme blanche, and at their meetings held exciting combats with dirk and foil. It was suggested that Mr. Castle should give a lecture on the subject, with practical illustrations; and the manager [of the Lyceum Theatre], himself a fencer, invited many friends and amateurs to witness the performance, which took place on February 25, 1891. This lecture was entitled "The Story of Swordsmanship, especially in connection with the rise and decline of duelling. And accordingly there was witnessed a series of combats, mediæval, Italian and others, back-sword, small-sword, sword and cloak and the rest. Later the performance was repeated at the instance of the Prince of Wales.

(1) The quaint name of this club, the "Kerneuzers," was suggested by a simple attendant, who actually so described the members; it was his pronunciation of the word "conoisseurs."


-Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald, Sir Henry Irving: A Biography (Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co., 1906), p. 196
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Jonathan » 14 Jun 2012 21:48

If you search using the spelling "Kernoozers" you will find many interesting results.

From The Small-Sword in England by J.D. Aylward:

Kernoozers 1.jpg
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Phil C » 14 Jun 2012 22:17

Mark Donnelly has lectured on them as they are a pet subject of his.

I first came across them in an intriguing story involving the theft of a helmet from a rural church for a private collection who wouldn't sell. One of the Karnoozers found a thin man with an unusually large head, then constructed a cagee under a large coat so he looked like a very fat man.

This fellow was then paid to walk into the church, put the helmet under his coat and walk out with noone any the wiser.
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Chiron » 15 Jun 2012 06:13

The League of Extraordinary Stealing Bastards... known in short as LESB, certainly has a ring to it.
nay king, nay quin we willnae be fooled again!
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Tony Wolf » 21 Sep 2012 06:52

There's a chapter on the Kernoozers Club in my book Ancient Swordplay: the Revival of Elizabethan Fencing in Victorian London - http://www.freelanceacademypress.com/an ... dplay.aspx . Egerton Castle was a member and Richard Burton may have been, or at least visited Club meetings occasionally. They weren't precisely a "secret society" but they were exclusive and seem to have quite enjoyed conjuring an atmosphere of mystery about their activities. Basically, though, they were a bunch of fairly wealthy and highly educated arms and armour geeks.
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby admin » 01 Oct 2012 10:28

Tony's book certainly covers them in quite a bit of detail. I'm enjoying reading it at the moment. Thanks for posting this anyway Ariella because until a couple of weeks ago I had only vaguely heard of the organisation and as this forum features pretty highly in Google searches it is great to have a link here for internet searchers to delve deeper.
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Tony Wolf » 01 Oct 2012 17:51

admin wrote:Tony's book certainly covers them in quite a bit of detail. I'm enjoying reading it at the moment. Thanks for posting this anyway Ariella because until a couple of weeks ago I had only vaguely heard of the organisation and as this forum features pretty highly in Google searches it is great to have a link here for internet searchers to delve deeper.


I'm glad to hear that people are enjoying the book. Would you consider writing up a short review for Amazon.com? The topic is so "niche" that I haven't heard much feedback from readers.
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby admin » 02 Oct 2012 11:18

Sure, doesn't one need to register as a reviewer somehow?
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Tony Wolf » 02 Oct 2012 14:49

I think you need an Amazon membership to post reviews.
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Tony Wolf » 02 Oct 2012 16:47

... and speaking of the Kernoozers Club, here's a short video on that very subject, towards the Forteza Clubhouse project: http://www.indiegogo.com/FortezaClubhou ... y&a=498944

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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby admin » 03 Oct 2012 12:34

Reviewed :)
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Tony Wolf » 03 Oct 2012 18:02

Thank you!
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby admin » 28 Oct 2012 23:30

Tony, I stumbled on this page showing Egerton Castle and thought it may be of interest:
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Tony Wolf » 29 Oct 2012 05:36

Very interesting, thanks. Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon was one of the most colourful Bartitsu Club affiliates - he was an avid fencer and wrestler, a pioneer of "wax bullet duelling" and a member of the 1908 London Olympic Games organising committee, alongside fellow Bartitsu clubman Sir William Grenfell. Duff Gordon and his equally colourful fashion designer wife were later caught up in one of the major scandals following the sinking of the Titanic - he was accused of having bribed sailors not to pick up other survivors from the water. The accusations were proved to be baseless, but sadly his reputation was ruined and he spent the rest of his life in virtual seclusion.

The Mr. Cook mentioned in the article would have been Ernest Stenson Cook, who was also one of Captain Hutton's historical fencing proteges.

Is the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News archive online somewhere?
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby admin » 29 Oct 2012 12:22

In a manner of speaking, yes. I found it on Ebay.co.uk! I can't provide a direct link right I'm afraid, but if you search for it there I'm sure you'll find it and can buy it if you so wish.
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Re: Victorian HEMA: The "Kerneuzers"

Postby Tony Wolf » 29 Oct 2012 16:34

All good, thanks again.
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