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Civil War

Echoes of the English Civil War run through Nottinghamshire

It was in Nottingham on 22 August 1642, that Charles I raised his royal standard as a signal for his supporters to rally to his side. Taking place just outside Nottingham Castle, the event effectively marked the beginning of the civil war. A plaque on Standard Hill, near the castle, commemorates the historic event.

Nottingham proved to be a town of divided loyalties and Charles soon moved off to Shrewsbury to gather more support for his cause. This left the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) free to garrison the castle with their own soldiers under the command of Colonel John Hutchinson.

The Parliamentarians were soon in the thick of action as Royalists from around the county repeatedly tried to retake the castle for the king. On one occasion, in September 1643, 600 Royalist soldiers from Newark managed to fight their way through the town and up to the castle but were eventually driven away. In fact Hutchinson held the castle until the end of the war. 

Like Nottingham, Newark held a strategic position on the route northwards through England. Due to it's location at the junction of the Fosse Way and the Great North Road, the town was an important control point for access across the country. Troops loyal to the King swelled its population many times over and, from the safety of its defences, they would launch attacks on local Parliamentarians.

Newark came under siege no less than three times from the Parliamentarians, in 1643, 1644 and 1645-46.  Conditions in the town grew intolerable, especially after an outbreak of plague and in May 1646 Charles I ordered the town to surrender. Charles himself, disguised as a clergyman, made his way to Southwell where, at the King’s Arms, he gave himself up to the Scots Army. Charles was taken back to the Scots camp at Kelham, near Newark. The Civil War was effectively over.

The remains of Newark Castle, with its resounding echoes of the past and its fine vista over the River Trent attract visitors from all over Europe.

Despite the surrender of Charles I, the civil war rumbled on. A final skirmish in Nottinghamshire took place at Willoughby-on-Wolds in the south of Nottinghamshire on 5 July 1648. Here, in a field near the church, the Parliamentarians took on 800 Royalist troops under Sir Phillip Monckton. It was a ‘bloody’ battle but the Royalists were eventually overcome.

 The Civil War in Nottinghamshire was finally over.

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