Our First King Rene Tent

New: Custom tent calculations

At some point Deborah decided to build her own pavilion based on the many pictures of pavilions in King Rene d'Anjou's Book of Love. We completed this pavilion as a joint project in 1994, aided by the Calon Scrolls special issue on pavilions. (The Calon Scrolls is the arts-and-sciences newsletter of the Kingdom of Calontir, which has something of a reputation for pavilioning.)
The King Rene tents have a "valence", a strip of fabric (usually of a contrasting color, often dagged or fringed -- not just for decoration, but to shed rain better) hanging on the outside of the shoulder. A distinctive feature of the tents in King Rene's book is that the guy ropes and "crow's feet" (the short ropes running diagonally from the shoulder to the guy rope) clearly emerge from the top of the valence, rather than the bottom (as in some other medieval sources), and coincide with colored stripes on the roof, many of which seem three-dimensional as though the rope were running along under the stripe.

Our pavilion has one center pole, but no hoop at the shoulder: instead, the shoulder is simply held out by guy lines that run straight from the top of the pole, through channels in the roof, out at the top of the valence, to the ground. (We did put in a 1/2" rope hoop to reinforce the shoulder and take some strain off the roof fabric.) This approach takes more real estate, but in Enchanted Ground there are always other tents with guy lines, so we put them next to one another and cross the ropes to make more efficient use of the land. Anyway, at the peak, all the ropes are eye-spliced to a 2" steel ring which fits over the top of the center pole; between this and the roof fabric is a leather cone that helps keep rain from coming in through the peak.

The plan is an equilateral decagon, approximately 5' in radius at the ground (c. 4' at the shoulder). The center pole, 10'6" high, consists at present of two hardwood wheelbarrow handles joined by inserting their handles into a steel sleeve; all we had to do to the handles after buying them was drill a hole in one end of one for the finial to screw into. This technique, unfortunately, is not based on historical data, but on the fact that we were unable to find suitable hardwood poles for sale; we would welcome suggestions on more historically informed center poles, especially if they can be carried in or on a Ford Escort.
The foot-wide valence is attached at the edge of the roof. An inch or so in from the valence is a narrower strip of (doubled) fabric with buttonholes every foot or so; buttons likewise spaced around the top of the wall attach to this. The crow's feet go through reinforced holes in the valence and tie around the rope hoop.
The fabric is cotton duck, fairly heavy for the roof and walls, lighter for the colored stripes and valence. All ropes in this tent are 1/2" diameter, which we learned was too heavy to work with, especially to tie quickly in the face of an impending thunderstorm. We transported the tent, along with food, clothes, and musical instruments for two people for a week at Pennsic, inside a Geo Metro, and could still use the rear-view mirror.

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Last modified: Sun Dec 22 08:44:59 EST 1996
Stephen Bloch / sbloch@boethius.adelphi.edu