Worcestershire in the English Civil War
Usually, the Battle of Worcester has been taken as synonymous with the Civil War in the County, but it was quite an isolated incident, that did not occur until five years after the First Civil War had ended.
First English Civil War
1642. King Charles I moved from Nottingham to Shrewsbury. The Earl of Essex, who commanded the Parliament army, was ordered to prevent the King advancing on London, so marched from Northampton to Stratford-on-Avon, Pershore to Worcester, shortly before Essex arrived at Worcester, the first major cavalry skirmish took place in at Powick Bridge. Charles, having completed his preparations, marched by Wolverhampton, Birmingham, towards Banbury, thus getting between Essex and London. Turning round, he defeated Essex at the Battle of Edgehill, and slowly marched on towards London, before turning after the Battle of Brentford retreating first to Reading and then to Oxford. The result of the advance by the Royalists towards London was that the Parliament troops evacuated Worcestershire.
1643. The King established his headquarters at Oxford, and was most anxious to win the highlands of the Cotswolds and the line of the river Severn. The Parliamentarians had two armies. Their plan was that the two armies, one of which was engaged before Reading under Essex, the other under William Waller had its headquarters at Bristol, should unite and take Oxford. Essex took Reading. Waller, operating from Gloucester, cleared the county, and by taking Hereford cut off communication with Wales. To make all safe in the Severn Valley, Charles besieged Gloucester, but Essex was able to raise the siege.
1644. Again Parliamentary forces tried the same plan as the previous year. Essex and Waller were to join and march on Oxford. They did so, and very nearly caught Charles I, but he escaped, marched by Broadway to Evesham, Pershore to Worcester, and on to Bewdley. Waller followed him, but the two armies did not come to close quarters; the only fighting was Wilmot's attempt to relieve Dudley Castle, which was being besieged by Lord Denbigh. Charles retired towards Oxford, followed by Waller, who was defeated by Wilmot at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge. Charles then returned into Worcestershire, and stayed at Evesham for some days.
1645. Edward Massey, the Governor of Gloucester, stormed and took Evesham, thus severing the Royalist line of march from Worcester to Oxford. Charles marched to Inkberrow, Droitwich, Bromsgrove, and on to Leicester and then to Naseby, where he was defeated; then back by Kidderminster, Bewdley to Hereford and South Wales. The Scottish army came to the help of the English, and marched to Alcester on their way to attack Worcester, but turned off to Droitwich, Bewdley, and so to Hereford, which they besieged. Charles marched north, and working round reached Oxford. Having got some troops together, he marched to the relief of Hereford. He stayed several days in Worcester, marched from there to Bromyard and on to Hereford, but on his approach the Scotch raised the siege, marched to Gloucester, crossed the Severn, then marching through Cheltenham, Evesham, to Stratford-on-Avon on their way towards Newark.
1646. During the winter a Royalist army was collected in Wales, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire, and marched towards Oxford, but were met by the Parliamentary troops near Stow-on-the-Wold and destroyed. Shortly after this Charles left Oxford and gave himself up to the Scots. He issued orders to his captains and officers to deliver up the places they held. Dudley Castle surrendered, as did Hartlebury. Worcester was besieged and held out to July, when it had to surrender. Included in the Articles were Madresfield and Strensham. With their surrender the First Civil War, so far as Worcestershire was concerned, came to an end.
Second Civil War
1648. The Royalist plot, ended in the second Civil War, the chief feature in which was the siege of Colchester. An attempt at a rising, organised by Colonel Dud Dudley, was made in Worcestershire, but it was suppressed, Dudley taken prisoner, sent to London, and condemned to die. The morning before his execution he escaped.
1649. King Charles I was executed. Charles II. went to Scotland and was proclaimed King of Scotland. The Parliament troops were engaged in putting down the Irish.
Third Civil War
1651. After a good deal of negotiations and manoeuvres Charles II, at the end of July, invaded England, marching through Carlisle on London. When he got to Stafford it was thought desirable to halt for reinforcements from Wales, and to meet these men Charles marched to Worcester. Cromwell, meanwhile proceeded down the east coast, marched across to Evesham, thus getting between Charles and London, advanced on to Worcester, attacked and routed him at the Battle of Worcester.
- Governor of Worcester
- Battle of Kings Norton
- Escape of Charles II
- Tinker Fox
- Sir Thomas Lyttelton
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Willis-Bund, John William (1905). The Civil War in Worcestershire 1642-1646 and the Scotch invasion of 1651. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Company.
- Atkin, Malcolm (2004). "Chronology". Worcestershire Under Arms: An English County During the Civil Wars (illustrated ed.). Casemate Publishers. pp. 8–10. ISBN 9781844150724.
- Atkin, Malcolm (1995). The Civil War in Worcestershire (illustrated ed.). Alan Sutton Pub. ISBN 9780750910507.
- Atkin, Malcolm (2007). "Civil War archaeology". In Brooks, Alan; Pevsner, Nikolaus. Worcestershire. Pevsner Architectural Guides: The Buildings of England (illustrated, revised ed.). Yale University Press. p. 53. ISBN 9780300112986.
- Atkin, Malcolm (2008). Worcester 1651. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-84415-080-9.