In 1642, six months before Edgehill, the first battle of the English Civil War, Charles I made two attempts to enter the city of Hull to seize control of its armoury but was refused entry on both occasions by its governor Sir John Hotham. The king’s army was forced to retreat, probably making their way to Hessle, a royalist stronghold, while the disgruntled king declared Hotham a traitor.
By the 22nd of August, King Charles moved on to the City of Nottingham. Here he raised his royal standard thus marking the beginning of the English Civil War.
The image below is a house on High Street St. Martin's, in Stamford in Lincolnshire, it was the one time home of Lady Frances Wingfield.
Francis is said to have entertained Oliver Cromwell at this house, where in 1643 she is said to have persuaded Cromwell, using their family connections, not to attack the Stamford - she asked that the gates to the town be closed.
Stamford at this time was on the whole loyal to the crown, but there were families who sympathised with the Parliamentarian cause, notably the Willoughby's at Grimsthorpe, however the family of Cecil played for both sides. The families fine house at Burghley was caught up in events of the Civil War in the summer of 1643 when it was taken for the Royalist party under Viscount Camden - a place to hide as the Parliamentarians made their way from Northampton. Camden's forces held Burghley for just one day, the 24th July 1643, but the arrival of an army under Oliver Cromwell forced a surrender by the afternoon of the following day.
Maybe it was while all the churches in Stamford were ringing their bells backwards to summon Royalist support that Francis was doing her bit to save the town from an attack?
Francis Wingfield was the daughter of Edward Cromwell, 3rd Baron Cromwell of Oakham in Leicestershire and the great great granddaughter of Thomas Cromwell. Thomas, as you will know, was chief minister to King Henry VIII, his sister Catherine William was the great grandmother of Oliver.
You may be wondering why Oliver had the surname of Cromwell when the family's surname was William? Catherine's husband was Morgan ap William, but their family had abandoned the Welsh naming system of 'ap or son of' in favour of the English use of a surname and therefore their descendants took the name of Cromwell.
King Charles I had been executed on the 30th of January in 1649. His body was taken from the place of execution, embalmed and placed on public show at St James' Palace until the 7th of February.
Parliament had refused permission for his burial in Westminster Abbey so his final resting place was St George's Chapel at Windsor where he was interred on the 9th of February.
Of Charles's funeral author Anthony Wood wrote a snow storm, that had begun very suddenly as the King’s body was carried to the west end of St George’s Chapel, covered the black velvet pall with thick white snow, “the colour of innocency”
He lays within the same chamber as Edward IV.
The weather in January of 1649 was bitterly cold, it was not a good day for an execution, especially when the man standing on the scaffold was the king of England.
On the 30th King Charles waited inside the Banqueting House in Whitehall for the doors to be opened so that he might make his way to the scaffold that had been erected outside. Maybe there was ice on the windows, as history tells us Charles asked to wear two heavy shirts so that he might not shiver in the cold. Charles did not wish that his people think that he was afraid.
Charles I was beheaded that day - he said:
"... truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as anybody whomsoever; but I must tell you that their liberty and freedom consist in having of government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having share in government, sirs; that is nothing pertaining to them; a subject and a sovereign are clear different things. And therefore until they do that, I mean that you do put the people in that liberty, as I say, certainly they will never enjoy themselves. Sirs, it was for this that now I am come here. If I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the power of the sword, I needed not to have come here; and therefore I tell you (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) that I am the martyr of the people..."
An observer in the crowd said of the execution:
'There was such a groan by the thousands then present as I never heard before and desire I may never hear again’.
Poor Charles, yes he was his own worst enemy, but did he deserve a death such as this?
On the 19th January in 1643, Sir Ralph Hopton led his Royalist forces to victory at the Battle of Braddock Down, an area that lies between Lostwithiel and Liskeard in Cornwall.
Hopton’s forces spent the night of the 18th January camped near the village of Boconnoc, the following morning they woke to find a Parliamentarian army deployed at what is now Largin Farm on the east side of Braddock Down.
The Parliamentarian forces, under the command of Colonel Ruthven, were making their way into Cornwall from Devon.
More of a skirmish than a battle this clash of arms saw the surrender of a large number of Parliamentarians, the capture of five cannons assorted weaponry and, according to the Royalist, only two of their men were lost.
In the following, May Hopton's forces would again defeat the Parliamentarian forces at the Battle of Stratton.
Ambrose Rookwoode was one of the Gunpowder Plotters, he was said to have been a ‘well-built and handsome, if somewhat short’, 'genial', ‘well-lettered’, and ‘very secret.
My interest in Rookwoode in particular, was as a member of the family of Stanningfield in Suffolk who were wealthy and staunchly Catholic and his wife Elizabeth Tyrwhitt's family was also a prominent Catholic family from my local area in Lincolnshire.
It was on the 8th November 1606, at precisely 11 0'clock in the morning that over two hundred men arrived at Holbeche House where seven of the plotter were holed up. The house was surrounded and the plotters fired upon, four of them killed the other two injured including Ambrose Rookwoode.
You will know the rest of this sorry tale, on the 27th January 1607, Rookwoode was taken to Westminster Hall where he pleaded guilty, three days later he was tied to a hurdle and dragged by horse from the Tower to Westminster before being hanged, drawn and quartered along with his fellow conspirators.
On this day in 1666, diarist Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary that the king, Charles II, had started wearing the first known waistcoat.
"This day the King begins to put on his vest, and I did see several persons of the House of Lords and Commons too, great courtiers, who are in it; being a long cassocke close to the body, of black cloth, and pinked with white silke under it, and a coat over it, and the legs ruffled with black riband like a pigeon’s leg; and, upon the whole, I wish the King may keep it, for it is a very fine and handsome garment."
In the years that followed it was said that the King was so overweight that he left the bottom button of his vest undone, a fashion custom followed to this day.
After his restoration, Charles tried hard to be different from his father one way he did this was in his style of dress. Charles I had favoured doublets with full sleeves and full breeches, Charles went for short doublets and petticoat breeches and gradually moved to a coat, waistcoat and breeches and as mention he is credited as being the 'inventor' of the modern vest and the suit.
On this day in 1651 King Charles II famously hid in an oak tree on the estate of Boscobel in Shropshire.
The following is the king’s account, dictated some thirty years later to Samuel Pepys.
"he told me that it would be very dangerous either to stay in the house or go into the wood (there being a great wood hard by Boscobel) and he knew but one way how to pass all the next day and that was to get up into a great oak in a pretty plain place where we could see round about us for they would certainly search all the wood for people that had made their escape. We got up into a great oak that had been lopped some 3 or 4 years before and so was grown out very bushy and thick not to be seen through. And there we sat all the day."
On this day in 1658 the death of Oliver Cromwell.
Cromwell continues to be one of England's most controversial and fascinating figures whose notoriety revolves around his views on monarchy and his attempts to turn the country into a republic.
I used to straddle the line when it comes to liking/disliking Oliver Cromwell (I was felt much the same about Simon de Montfort) Montfort over the years he has gone up in my estimation as has Oliver Cromwell. Therefore I ask this question -
Should we look at Cromwell as good or bad or should we at least consider him a victim of propaganda?
It was on this day in 1685, that trials began in Winchester that have come to be known as the Bloody Assizes.
On trial were over one thousand men - rebels who took part in the Monmouth Rebellion. Nearly all would die the horrible death by hanging, disemboweling and quartering, others were transported to the West Indies.
The judges were Sir Henry Pollexfen, Sir Creswell Levinz, Sir Francis Wythens, Sir Robert Wright and Sir William Montague and at their head, Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys.
Judge Jeffreys was a hard, bitter and vengeful man, who Gilbert Burnet in his History of My Own Time writes of Jeffrey.
"His behaviour was beyond anything that was ever heard of in a civilized nation. He was perpetually either drunk or in a rage, liker a fury that the zeal of a judge. He required the prisoners to plead guilty. And in that case he gave them some hope of favour, if they gave him no trouble; otherwise he told them, he would execute the letter of the law upon them in its utmost severity."
Whether you were old and female made no difference as Lady Alice Lisle would find out to her cost.
History is so interesting isn't it? Do you love the story of King Alfred's unsuccessful afternoon in the kitchen or King Cnut unsuccessful attempt not to get his feet wet? Maybe you're interested in when the Normans landing on our shores or the stories of an era closer to our time?