The English Civil War battle fought in Northamptonshire 375 years ago

The Battle of Naseby was one of the most important conflicts in the civil war

By Phoebe Radford
Sunday, 14th June 2020, 10:08 am
The Battle of Naseby was a crucial battle in the English Civil War. (Photo by asdf)
The Battle of Naseby was a crucial battle in the English Civil War. (Photo by asdf)

One of the most important battles in the nine-year-long English Civil war was fought in Northamptonshire 375 years ago today.

The Battle of Naseby was fought near the village of the same name on June 14, 1645 between the Royalist Army of King Charles I and Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarian New Model Army.

The civil war had broken out three years before in 1642 when Charles I had clashed with parliament and then declared war against them.

A re-enactment of the Battle of Naseby from a few years ago. (Photo by asdf)

The National Army Museum said: "In the years that followed, armies loyal to the King fought in pitched battles and sieges against forces raised by Parliament.

"They fought for control of key cities and strongholds all over Britain."

Northants became a frontline between the two sides as several nobles from the county became involved in the conflict on the Royal side but Northampton's residents supported Parliament.

Northamptonshire Heritage said: "Many Northamptonshire nobles, such the Brudenells and the Washingtons, left their country houses to fight for the King. Spencer Compton, the 2nd Earl of Northampton, became a Royalist general.

"(The Royalists) made Oxford their base, but they had garrisons in Northamptonshire. Towcester was a major garrison from late 1643 to early 1644, defended with guns placed on Bury Mount."

Meanwhile Northampton declared support for Parliament and the Parliamentarian army gathered in the town because it became one of the strongest garrisons in the region.

Northamptonshire Heritage said: "There were numerous skirmishes in Northamptonshire, which lay on the frontline between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians."

Locals attacked Royalist soldiers in Brackley in 1642, the Parliamentarians were defeated outside Middleton Cheney in 1643 and there were raids on Wellingborough, Kettering, and Weedon Lois.

Northamptonshire Heritage said: "One of the larger skirmishes took place in Grafton Regis. In December 1643, the Parliamentarians laid siege to Grafton House, which had been fortified by the Royalists.

"The siege only lasted a few days as the Parliamentarians overwhelmed the Royalists, captured the house, and set it on fire. The house’s owner, Lady Crane, complained that she lost money, furniture, and animals worth £5,000 during the attack. Over 600 musket balls have been found on the site."

By 1644, the Parliamentarians had created a proper single army and were ready to fight. Their first proper battle took place in Northamptonshire where the two sides had already been attacking each other.

Northamptonshire Heritage said: "In 1645, after seizing Leicester, the Royalists were unsure of what strategy to pursue and divided their army. Most of the Royalist army marched south before stopping in Daventry to raid local farms and villages for supplies.

"Meanwhile, the Parliamentarians also advanced close to Daventry. The Royalists were outnumbered. Realising that they could not get away, they prepared to face the New Model Army."

The battle took place on June 14 and The New Model Army moved into more neutral ground to bait the Royalists into attack, which they did after overestimating the strength of their army.

Northamptonshire Heritage said: "The Parliamentarians inflicted a huge defeat on the Royalists. Over 1,000 Royalists were killed and another 5,000 taken prisoner. It was the decisive battle of the First English Civil War.

"Charles lost nearly all his infantry, artillery, and supply wagons, and was never able to replace them.

"Although the conflict continued for another year, the Royalists had no hope of victory."

King Charles I fled north after losing the battle and finally surrendered in May 1646.

The English Civil War lasted nine long years, but it was the Battle of Naseby that turned the tide and decided the outcome.