Fri, 29 Jun 2018
THE First Battle of Newbury was brought to life last weekend to mark the 375th anniversary of the event.
The crowds experienced the thrill of cavalry in action, musket and artillery fire and the clash of pikes on the site of the original battle at Cope Hall Park, on the lower slopes of Round Hill, to the west of Newbury.
Next to the battlefield was a Living History encampment, representing the people of Newbury in 1643.
These included live demonstrations of period activities and crafts, such as visiting the herbalist, a working forge and a printing press.
Children were able to try a host of fun activities, including putting on armour and writing with a quill pen.
All of this entertainment was to a background of 17th-century music.
The first battle of Newbury took place on September 20, 1643.
It was fought between a Royalist army, under the personal command of King Charles, and a Parliamentarian force led by the Earl of Essex.
The battle was a consequence of the siege of Gloucester by Charles I.
Twenty-thousand Parliament troops had to break through the Royalist lines at Newbury to get back to London.
The two armies were of similar size, but the Royalists had superiority in cavalry.
The battle started badly for the Royalists as they failed to secure the only high point on the battlefield – Round Hill.
Essex and the Parliamentarians took the hill only to lose it to the Royalists after a heavy battle that cost them many cavalrymen.
The Parliamentarian force that had held the hill also took high casualties.
It is this battle that the English Civil War Society re-enacted at the weekend on the original site.
The following day, September 21, Essex found that the Royalists had withdrawn and travelled to Oxford.
Essex had made no further advance on London at this point, but as the Royalists suffered the worst casualties the Parliamentarians declared the Battle of Newbury as a victory.
Newbury mayor Margo Payne tweeted from the battlefield: “Newbury is so lucky to have such amazing living history.
“I’m very excited to be fine dining 17th-century style with members of English Civil War Society before the 1st Battle of Newbury today.
“In full costume too.”