To launch Civil War in Wessex with a bit more aplomb (the early detonation last Friday was accidental – how easy it is to start a fight!) we’ve searched the archives and found unique footage of the ‘Battle of Andover’, 1644…or perhaps more correctly the 360th anniversary of the said battle, in October, 2004.
In the original incident, more a skirmish than a battle, Royalist forces, including King Charles, were advancing from the Salisbury direction and put Sir William Waller’s troops to flight. The key action, in a lane leading to Andover, may have been near the river bridge and a sword found in the gravelly mud of the River Anton probably comes from this engagement. The King spent the night in the ‘White Hart’ inn.
For the ‘re-enactment’ on Andover recreation ground no horses were allowed, as they would have cut up the turf, but a march-past of doughty drummers and pike men preceded a few booms from a field gun brought up from Taunton.
‘Don’t put your fingers in your ears’ says the gun-captain, but someone already has and can’t hear him! The first firing drew a great response and spontaneous applause and was followed by four or five more until the last one, when a double-charge was loaded. My favourite comment was from a friend, Tony Raper, who was at home eating his Sunday dinner, half a mile away. ‘That last blast’ he said ‘ nearly shook the windows out of their frames’. Tony, you should have been where we were!
It was a brilliant event – and similar shows take place at Basing House during the season, although window rattling isn’t a regular feature. We really do appreciate the efforts of the Sealed Knot and English Civil War Society to mark this classic period of our past.
Civil War in Wessex, Alan Turton (2015), 32pp. Wessex Books, £6.99
Series by Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, Peter Stone.