Tessa of the Gardens

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Simonn and Tessa 2006.JPG
Photo by Phocas of Bordermarch, taken 2006
Registered Name: Tessa of the Gardens
Resides: Bordermarch
Status: Active
Joined SCA: 1976
Order of Precedence
Tessa of the Gardens
Tessa of the gardens.gif
(Currently in Submission)

Her Excellency, Dame Tessa of the Gardens, OP, OL, Defender of the Dream

Previously Known As: Theresa of the Gardens

Additional Registered Heraldry:


  • Local Offices Held
    • Founding Baroness Bordermarch (1977 - 1989)
    • Seneschal, Bordermarch
    • Chronicler, Bordermarch
    • Minister of Arts & Sciences, Bordermarch
    • Historian, Bordermarch
    • Hospitaler, Bordermarch
    • Marshal's Secretary, Bordermarch
  • Regional Offices Held
    • Hospitaler, Coastal Region (2011)
    • Hospitaler, Southern Region
  • Kingdom Offices Held
    • 1st Seneschal, Principality of Ansteorra (1978 - serving under Prince Sean & Princess Katerina)
    • 2nd Seneschal, Principality of Ansteorra (1979 - serving under Prince Randall & Princess Constance)
    • 3rd Princess, Principality of Ansteorra
    • 9th Queen of Ansteorra
    • Kingdom ER Deputy Historian (2004-2005-2006-2007)

Persona History:


  • Sharing the experience with family
  • The Rapier Community
  • Providing fighter support in every venue
  • Service to Crown and local Barony
  • Solidarity with the Order of the Rose
  • Acting as a patroness to Bards
  • SCA History
  • Cooking: Redactions, feast presentations
  • Stewarding: Events and Feasts
  • Constructing & Maintaining "BorderKeep" - the site for Bordermarch Autumn Melees: This site has gone through three seperate stages and locations, from landscape timbers at Clairbourne West Park, then railroad ties at Colmesneil, then a mortar cinderblock structure.
  • Baking (with a focus on breads)
  • Herb Gardening (both at home and at the BorderKeep site)
  • Baronial retinue services
  • Crown retinue services


Timeline of Activity:

Our First Days:

Artwork by William Blackfox

July, 1976 A.S. XI
When we first joined the SCA, Ansteora (spelled then with one “r”) was a Region distant from the central capitol (Phoenix) of the Kingdom of Anteveldt which reached from Arizona to Florida. Meridies, from Louisiana through Florida, had recently become a Principality of Atenveldt. We happened onto an old newspaper item about the SCA in Baton Rouge/Draconia, Principality of Meridies, and sought contact. When visiting relatives in Houston, with information for closer to Beaumont, we happened onto a dinner revel in The Barony of the Stargate and thereafter made plans to go to our first battlefield, a trip to Memphis/Grey Niche, Meridies (which is the newest Kingdom, Glenn Ahbann, as of May, 2005, A.S. XL).

Being far removed from central Atenveldt, the Region of Ansteora had three Baronies: Stargate, Steppes, and Bjornsborg. We in the Shire Bordermarch on the eastern edge of Texas at the Louisiana border grew much as provincials, trying to figure out “how to’s.” Several of our mentors just a couple of hours to our east were near neighbors across the Sabine River into Meridies and others were in the Barony of the Stargate to our west.

An Atenveldt peer who greatly influenced us from the beginnings, one of the first people we met, is Sir Francois du Vant, a hero, an inspiring Knight. He represents that which is noble and just, exemplary of chivalry. He is a man of vision and promise. When my beloved husband Simonn and I first met Francois, it was at the very first event we traveled to, July 1976, A.S. XI, The Border Raids, in The Barony of Grey Niche/Memphis TN in the Principality of Meridies/Atenveldt. At that time Francois was Prince Sir Francois du Vant *and* autocrat of that event. He was the first Prince of the new Principality of Meridies.

We and our teething one year old son Aarion Kyrkwood Mountain-Gate traveled from Beaumont, TX, (not yet the Shire of Bordermarch) in the Region of Ansteora/Atenveldt, with the company of some new acquaintances who already played SCA. We had a large car; they had a tent; and we all wanted to get to Border Raids between the Principality of Meridies and the Kingdom of the Middle, so we collaborated from southeast Texas to journey to Tennessee. Those travelers were Master Lloyd von Eaker and Lady Joycelyn, who would later become Crown of Ansteorra. Once in Grey Niche, we met Mistress Willow d’ Wisp who would later become Atenveldt’s Queen then Ansteorra’s very first Queen.

Simonn had never been to a fighter practice-- had never seen a fighter practice-- but we had been researching. We did not know about wrapped rattan weapons. Simonn had built a flexible gasket rubber axe head mounted on a hickory ax handle (then SCA legal). I had designed and sewn our clothes. His embattled surcoat matched his painted shield: quarterly gules and argent, in 2nd and 3rd, a tower embattled of four sable, with a hawk's head overall. That was basically the same device he eventually registered. My first garb, made without any patterns, was a beige chemise under a top layer of blue brocade with wide A-shaped sleeves and a head roll to match, sewn from remnants of a formal gown.

While we helped build the tent at evening, I settled our small son into his portable wooden play yard outside. A gentleman fighter in a T-shirt carrying his crying baby, walked over from the other side of the field. He was from the Kingdom of the Middle, “Midrealm.” While we chatted about journeys and weapons, this daddy was in need of an extra diaper for his baby, and I took care of that.

At Grey Niche I heard many people address Prince Francois as "Your Grace," "Your Highness," or "My Liege." Despite being a busy noble, not to mention busy autocrat, he took the personal time to inspect Simonn, Simonn's gear, and to qualify Simonn as a fighter. People in camp were referring to us as Lord and Lady Mountain-Gate, not perceiving that we were attending our first event. Simonn and Francois formed an undying camaraderie. I wanted to personally thank Prince Francois for approving my lord to sword fight in the battles, so I obtained permission to approach the Throne. Lo and behold, sitting on another throne was the daddy from Midrealm! He was King! It sort of startled me. When I bowed to Francois, I confused the terms Liege and Grace and said erroneously, out of either context, "My Grace" !

Someone taught me better as the whole court smiled, and I wanted to fade into the grass... I became determined that when our son was old enough, that he would pronounce everything correctly to joyfully set my faux pax upright. Soon, our cherubic blue-eyed platinum-haired little boy was using his little toy swords to strike at the taller men in armor. Aarion was an attraction at demos and RenFaire in those days. When again we were in the same place as Sir Francois, I felt it was time for Aarion to be "presented" to my hero. I escorted my little son forward and told him to pause and bow his little head and say, "Your Grace." Obediently, cherubic Aarion boldly stood his ground with his innocent head bowed, his hands folded upward, and started praying, "Thank You, Lord, for our food. Amen."

We have guffawed about that until our sides ache and tears of laughter stream our cheeks. Meanwhile in 1976, we had founded the Shire Bordermarch on the Sabine River where Texas and Louisiana are divided. Among the highlights of Simonn's fighting career is a day in January, 1977, at the Blessing of the Shires which we two autocratted to indicate that Bordermarch and The Isles (Galveston, since then discontinued) were up and running. On the battlefield that day Simonn had a double kill with Francois! Simonn was so inspired that he added "ears" to his heater to block the rapid shots that Francois throws, and he named his shield "Francois." That same day, Simonn also killed Sir Sean McFlam who was soon thereafter to become the first Prince of Ansteora. (Spelled with one "r" then.)

On one trip to Albuquerque in June, 1977, King Deaton Claymore knighted Sir Simonn of Amber [Isle] and Simonn was soon appointed Knights Marshal of Ansteora. Queen Care Cheri of the Fallen Stars awarded me a Grant of Arms with the Order of the Queen's Grace of Atenveldt; then on Sept 13, 1977, the BoD decreed our local shire to become Barony Bordermarch in the same Board Meeting that Meridies was decreed to be a Kingdom and Ansteorra was declared to be a Principality. So, actually, on the day Ansteorra became a Principality, there were four Baronies. We had been phoned by the Crown of Atenveldt and asked to host the October 1977 Crown Tournament of Atenveldt in Bordermarch, which we accomplished with cooperation from friends in The Stargate.

On the open field in the Barony of the Steppes at the Atenveldt Kingdom Warlord Tournament in Sept, 1977, at the hands of Atenveldt’s King Ton the Traveler and Queen Elizabeth Karien, we were installed as the Founding Baron and Baroness Bordermarch by equal right, decreed by the BoD, and I was appointed as Seneschal of the Region of Ansteora. (Spelled with one "r" then.)

For many years when we would attend the same events as Francois in Meridies or Ansteorra, he would greet us as if we were lofty blue bloods, as if he were scraping the ground to us as we did the same unto him. To get lower than the other, we try to get beneath the grass, toss grass above our heads, and greet in respectful hilarity. Sometimes we exchange a token ring by trying it on each finger until one of his or one of mine will fit each other. Sometimes not. This is always to the amusement of ourselves and to onlookers. When we attend events missing each other, we send little bunches of grass or a ring with fond greetings via a courier. I still have from Francois, tucked away safely in the cedar chest, an ancient locket filled with dry blades and another small capsule of dried lawn from a different event.

My journey could not have been as meaningful or as inspired without Francois’s influence and the joy and fun that are shared. Both our sons have been highly molded by the concepts of chivalry with great examples set before us by Sir Francois. Our second son, Zain Amber-Gate has grown to manhood now. Aarion's life was cut short. He has been gone now to the King of Kings since 1991. We went inactive until about 1994 and did not stay in as close touch as we might have.

Francois long, long ago gave us three garnets with encouragement to pass on two of them to others who held the Dream. When Simonn and I were 9th Crown of Ansteorra, I made small ornamental teardrop-shaped gold bags with a few garnets inside (and another folded up bag for pass-alongs) and gave them to individuals who maintained the spark of Chivalry, encouraging those individuals by naming them as DreamKeepers. This I learned from Francois, my hero. Recent photo antics occurred at the Barony of Small Gray Bear at the First Crown Tournament of Glenn Ahbann, May, 2005, A.S. XL. At the weightiness of this first Crown Tourney event and reminiscent of the day where we first met in Grey Niche, grass was picked from the tourney field to be sent to Francois whose high profile presence is sorely missed. He still inspires me. We wish him well. (Since this original writing, Sir Francois has passed on.)

Teaching a Cooking Class, 2009

Favorite SCA Memories:

Ages ago, Ansteorra was a Region in Atenveldt which stretched fully from Arid-zona to Florida. We had been playing for under two years. Crown Tournaments of Atenveldt at that time had always been in Phoenix or once in Albuquerque. Bordermarch was a brand spanking new baby barony in Atenveldt. We had traveled to Phoenix the summer prior. The Royals called us and asked us to host Aten Crown Tourney on the Gulf Coast. (Deer caught in the headlights expression!) With help from neighboring friends, it was pulled off.

But, but, but, Simonn kept advancing in the list. Further. !Colorado to Florida? and we had been playing only a couple of years? He was in the final four. I was nauseated, heaving, dehydrating, and a friend needed to wipe my face, pulling my long hair back, holding me up. Simonn's squires were tending to his refreshing (yes he had been knighted five months prior). Sir Theo and Sir Simonn had a double kill with Theo succumbing to Simonn falling dead with his (S's) dead-stick-fall konking a "dead sword" onto Theo's helm! Theo fell dead.

More sick and weak knees. They refought the double kill and Simonn advanced. And Simonn Amber was now in the top three finalists for the Crown of Atenveldt... I was sicker and sicker by the minutes. The finalists were Sir Koris Flo Plecki, Sir Theo Deborah Mightrinwood, Sir Andelion, and Sir Simonn. I did not *think* I was that upset over the possibility, but just kept being sicker. As the list went on, Sir Koris was victorious and made his lovely Leah Kasmira Heir to the Throne of Atenveldt.

My memories of this are amazing to me, not so much because we were that close, so inexperienced, but because I soon learned that I was pregnant! :D

To My Crowns:

My Liege Crown Jason & Margherita, and Heirs soon to ascend, Floki & Elizabeth:
The strength in your gaze,
the protection of your grip,
the approval in all of your nods,
the compassion mixed with boldness in your voice, My King
the love in your care, My Queen,
the involvement of your Herald, have all led me to a ceremony of accepting Your offer to join the Circle of the Wreath.
In over seven decades I have seldom been more humbled than in your court Sept 18, 2021. Your forgiveness of my physical inability to kneel also includes your steadying of my trembles. You place in me a trust to continue in my path, learning, teaching, about food ways and feast preparation/presentations, about herb gardening and kitchen related research. You allowed my fealty sworn upon both Riccardo’s broadsword and Tivar’s rapier, the touching of which gave me pause to reflect before I found my voice. Within my heart, I bow to you though my knees cannot.
My dream had been to be escorted into Your presence by my Knight-MoD-Laurel-Pelican-White Scarf loving husband on one side and our Blade of Merit Cadet on the other side. I must say I’ve never been happier to have a dream so drastically changed, to be actually escorted into Your presence by those two gentlemen, both as White Scarves!
Long live the Crown, and may You soon have respite from the plague years!
Long live the Heirs!
Long live Ansteorra!
Yours, devotedly,
Dame Tessa

Accountings of Events:

Photo Links:

Prior Groups:

  • Region of Ansteora, Kingdom of Atenveldt
  • Principality of Ansteorra


  • Tessa was one of the bearers of Friendbringer.
  • When Tessa was made a member of the Order of the Laurel, she was allowed to swear her oath of Fealty on both the Sword of State, once born by Riccardo di Pisa and that of Tivar Moondragon.

Wiki Mentions:

Populace Provided Information:

Notable Contributions or Accomplishments:

Artwork by William Blackfox
  • 1977: Became the first female steward of the historical sword, Friendbringer.
  • 1976 - 1991: Mistress of Lists for many Rapier events and Chivalric events.
  • 1976 - 1991: Feast Steward and teacher for many events. Autocrat for many Local, Principality, Regional and Kingdom events, as well as training others to autocrat (Including several Bordermarch Autumn Melees).
  • 1979: Created Don Tivar Moondragon as the first Don in the Known World, in what became the Order of the White Scarf
  • 1979: With Simonn, completed the paperwork to transition Ansteorra from Principality to Kingdom status, as commanded by King Theo of Atenvelt.
  • 1994 - 2010: Mistress of Lists for many Rapier events and Chivalric events.
  • 1994 - 2010: Feast Steward and teacher for many events. Autocrat for many Local, Principality, Regional and Kingdom events, as well as training others to autocrat (Including several Bordermarch Autumn Melees).
  • 2000 - Present: Co-worker of the first ever Rapier Defender of the Rose Tournament held in Bjornsborg. Member, Team of coordinators for each following Defenders of the Rose event since then with focus on Rapier, Chivalric, Equestrian, Archery, Performing Arts, A&S, Feast.
  • 2002: Co-Event Steward with Countess Rebekah of Guardian of the Gauntlet Revived
  • 2004: Named a Lion of Ansteorra by Quintus Aurelius Dracontius II and Sibri de Aldebourne I.
  • 2005: Aided by Excellent Roses Vanessa and Maggie, finished production of celebratory Feast for Defenders of the Rose after a hurricane.
  • 2010: Author of an article that was nominated to and won the William Blackfox Newsletter Award for Best Article.
  • 2014: Feast Steward with superb team for Coronation of Sven I & Antigone I.
  •  ?? – Current: Many years, matching up Rapier competitors with Rose sponsors so they can compete in Ansteorra's Rapier Rose Tournament.

Non-Armigerous Awards and Recognitions:


Mundane Information:

Tessa Banner 2011.jpg

Special Needs:

In Case of Court: