CRUSADING knights competed with battle-scarred cavaliers during brilliant, sometimes bloodthirsty displays which brought history back to life with a bang.

It may have been a wet and windy M5 Living History Show at Spetchley Park Gardens this weekend but it was certainly no washout as the unseasonable weather failed to put off the die-hard re-enactors or the crowds who had come to enjoy the spectacle.

Ominous clouds looming overhead only served to enhance the moody atmosphere for the 1,000 re-enactors who arrived to depict a colossal range of historical periods from the World Wars, stretching all the way back to the Boer War, Wild West and Napoleonic Wars and further back again into the 'Dark Ages' and beyond that to the Romans and Ancient Greeks.

Organiser Brian Bullock said the weather had only kept one or two away and the event continued to grow each year with a variety of scenarios unfolding at each camp to keep people entertained.

Mr Bullock came as a French Sapper from the Napoleonic Wars, cutting an imposing figure as he hefted his colossal custom-made axe.

With his kit and weapons Mr Bullock said he weighed around 21 stone.

He was one of those to attend the Armoured Picnic in 2006 from which the seed of the living history show was sown.

Kevin Corcoran, in character as 'John Seaman', sang and staggered about the grounds as he depicted an inebriated merchant seaman.

Those who preferred a more brutal spectacle could watch some of the displays of martial prowess including Crusaders from the late 12th century, hailing from Birmingham and Reigate in Surrey.

Among the re-enactors were Christopher King in helm and heavy chainmail representing a Western European knight.

Robert Atkinson wore the distinctive costume of the Knights Templar, one of the Holy Orders strongly connected with the crusades.

They faced off against Saracens from the Holy Land, depicted by Robert Kidney, Lewis Nash and Oliver Shackleton.

Lance Corporal James Mills of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment 1914-18 Living History Group portrayed a British soldier from the Boer War and talked visitors through his pride and joy - an original Maxim gun, the first production automatic machine gun, the only one he knows of that is not in a museum.