|In a recent issue of 'Local
Past' readers were reminded that 1992 was the 350th anniversary of the Battle of
Edge-hill. In the south Midlands, that was not the end of the story. The battle and its
consequences were widely felt and in 1643 the Civil War strongly affected our area. Philip
Tennant, in his 'Edgehill and Beyond' (Banbury Historical Society) tells us of the comings
and goings of the soldiers of both armies during this time in the Midlands. The
experience, he says, 'was vividly etched into the folk memory of communities distant from
Kineton (site of the battle) as Bilton in the east to Alcester in the west.
The trouble, according to Tennant, was the inability of commanders of both sides 'to devise a coherent strategy' . Because of this, units of both Parliamentary and Royalist forces were quartered in the villagesof the area, with heavy billeting around Alcester and Studley, with general plundering of supplies, both of food and horses. By and large, Alcester came under the influence of the Parliamentary garrison at Warwick Castle, where Col.Bridges was commander.
|The Royalist raiding parties
in this area came under constant attack from Bridges' sorties, whose troops heavily
The dislocation of everyday life was not the only problem for the average citizen. The religious life of communities underwent a change, especially in the areas influenced by the Parliamentary troops. Many radical splinter movements emerged in the ranks of the Puritans, with individuals settings themselves up as preachers.
|A Parliamentary captain, with
troops billeted in Alcester, preached at St.Nicholas church, with the official minister
standing by. Sam Clarke, rector of Alcester, though a puritan himself, bewailed the
influence of 'sectaries' and left for London. The lack of respect for parish churches was
manifest at Alcester and Burton Dassett, where horses were reportedly stabled in them.
Such goings on and the overturning of the normal way of life must have left an indelible impression on the ordinary men and women of South Warwickshire. 1643 was not a good year locally: but, then, 1644 and 1645 were as bad and when the Battle of Naseby seemed to end it all, a sigh of relief was heard over the land and people hoped they could return to the good old days before 1643. At the time, men said that ghosts were seen at Edgehill; and, no doubt, elsewhere too.
Spring 1993 Index