This project ran for 4 years from 2008. The following text outlines the programme and achievements.
In early 2008 we announced that we had started the planning phase for a programme of activities, spread over time, based on The Civil War. The programme will focus on the impact and legacy of the war on local and other communities and will involve visits, workshops, re-enactments, plus visiting speakers and societies. Our intention is to interweave this programme with other society activities and social events, including those associated with our 40th anniversary in 2009.
Since the announcement, members of the committee have done a significant amount of research and have obtained knowledge and resources to demonstrate that the project is viable, and would be both entertaining and informative to a wide audience.
We have now developed a programme of ten special events, spread over the period January 2009 to November 2011. The programme will be driven by the sequence and timing of events as they happened between 1642 and 1651. Continuity will be maintained from event to event, and the participants will have the opportunity to involve themselves as Royalists or Parliamentarians.
The project kicked-off to great acclaim on Friday 23rd January 2009 when war was declared. Local author Angela Farmer presented the background to the conflict, Judy and Robbie Robinson presented the global, national and local news and Matthew Hunter, representing the Fairfax Battalia gave a view on behalf of both sides in the conflict and took questions from the audience. The audience then signed up for the party of their choice, with a few undecideds and pacifists yet to declare, something they would not have got away with in Welford in 1642.
'Let Battle Commence' part two of the Civil War story unfolded to another large audience on Friday 24th April. In the second of our events we explored the early days and first battle of the conflict also world news items and the biographies of three of the key players. Thanks again to Angela Farmer and our newsreaders Judy Robinson and Rosemary Hale. Matthew Hunter was with us once again, this time as Prince Rupert. ‘No more noblemen for the time being’ he has suggested, next time he will be a ‘Soldier of Foote’.
The third event took place on Friday June 19th when a group from Welford and Weston joined Bidford History Society for a presentation from local historian and author Marie MacDonald. Marie’s talk, titled “Warwickshire and the English Civil War” gave further insights into events in Warwickshire and their impact on the local population. Bidford History Society Chairman, John Alexander-Head, thanked Welford and Weston for joining their meeting and expressed his hope that we can work on the creation of joint ventures in the months to come.
On Sunday July 12th we joined Harvey Watson of The Battlefields Trust for a guided walk of the Cropredy battlefield. Following an excellent lunch at The Brasenose Arms we joined other walkers to create a group of around 50 for a lovely summer afternoon walk in the north Oxfordshire country side. Our thanks to Harvey for sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with us and helping us to understand something of the scale and the effects of this important battle. The Battlefields Trust carry out important work to identify and preserve the battlefields from many wars, and organise educational events across the country which are available to all, to find out more go to www.battlefieldstrust.com
Event five took place in Welford Memorial Hall on Saturday 5th September. This was our most ambitious production to date with six presenters, a trial of a new sound system and even moving pictures! Our special thanks to David Beaumont from Kineton for a fascinating insight into the archaeology of the Edge Hill battlefield. The battle of Edge Hill was reported in detail by Robbie Robinson, Judy Robinson, Rosemary Hale and Derek Johnson with descriptions of local movements and impacts on the local community. In ‘The Wives’ tale’ presented by Derek Johnson, we considered the roles and influences of the following women in the conflict, Queen Henrietta Maria, Lady Brilliana Harvey and Lady Charlotte, Countess of Derby.
An additional event, a battlefield walk at Stow on the Wold, took place on Sunday 14 March 2010. This event was hosted by The Battlefield Trust, to which we have membership. This event was in advance of the timings in our project, but we thought it would be an opportunity too good to miss. The Battle of Stow on the Wold 1646. The last field battle of the 1st Civil War. Jacob Lord Astley had assembled remnants of royalist forces and marched from Bridgnorth to join Charles I at Oxford. Near Stow he was intercepted by a parliamentary army and forced to fight.
The English Civil War, 1643-1645. On Thursday 18th March 2010 event seven in our acclaimed project focused on the local impact of the conflict. The programme also included reports of events at a national level (1643 -44) following the progress of Essex post Cropredy and a full account of the War in Cornwall and the West Country superbly presented by local resident and full time Cornishman Richard Ham.
Our Civil War project reached its conclusion on Saturday 13th November 2010, with an examination of the most controversial personality to emerge during the conflict. The meeting, entitled Oliver Cromwell Tyrant or Saviour?, saw local residents Angela Farmer and Richard Ham present the arguments for each view of the Lord Protector’s legacy. At the end of the discussion a narrow majority agreed with Angela that Cromwell was the saviour of the country. This contrasted with the position of attendees at the start of the project, when the majority of those present declared themselves to be Royalists.
The committee would like to thank all those who contributed to the success of the project, especially Angela Farmer, Richard Ham and our newsreaders Robbie and Judy Robinson, Rosemary Hale, and Derek Johnson.
We acknowledge with thanks the support from The Fairfax Battalia and Sir William Pennyman’s Regiment of Foote, in particular Matthew Hunter.
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