Tag Archives: British Battlefields

Good news for Basing House Siege site? Or just spinning the short change for battlefield heritage?

A picture of a painting of a 17th century town under attack
(Above) Mike Codd’s painting, The Fall of Basing House, depicts the ransacking of the mansion in October 1645. The site will be turned into a permanent museum after a new Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Picture courtesy Hampshire County Council.

This is a piece of old news from 2010 from the page on culture 24

A Basingstoke mansion, which was the largest private home in England in the 17th century before being destroyed in a bloody  siege by Oliver Cromwell, will become a permanent museum in a multi-million pound development.

Basing House has been given a further £50,000 towards the exhibition in The Lodge, showcasing relics found in archaeological investigations around the site including clay pipes, a decorated ivory cup from West Africa, pistol shot fragments and hefty cannonballs.

It follows a grant of more than £1 million from the HLF towards the re-launch of the grounds as Basing House History Park last December, a project aiming to bring the House’s tumultuous Tudor and Stuart past to life.

A picture of a silver sixpence
A Charles I sixpence discovered during an archaeological dig at Basing House which will feature in the museum displays. Picture courtesy Hampshire County Council

“The grant from the HLF provides an opportunity to put many more of the finds on display to help tell the story of this fascinating site,” said Alastair Penfold, Head of Service at Hampshire County Museums and Archives Service, praising the generosity of local group the Friends of Basing House.

Head of HLF South East England Michelle Davies added that the scheme would help visitors to gain “a much clearer understanding” of the “scale and importance of this once-great house.”

The news is overdue relief for a building which has suffered repeated attacks. A Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, Basing House had survived two sieges by August 1645, when Cromwell himself took charge in an onslaught which killed more than 100 defenders. Parliament later ordered the ruins of the burnt and ransacked House to be razed to the ground.

Wenceslaus_Hollar_-_The_Siege_of_Basing_House
Wenceslaus Hollar: The Siege of Basing House

This sounds like a good news story?  Well only up to a point. Until a few years ago Basing House was a museum run by Hampshire Council, with knowledgeable curators living on site who cared about the siege,  as well as excellent hosts and guides.  Their jobs were cut with the pressure on the public sector.  Compared to the £1m spend on the grounds, £50,000 isn’t a lot for a battlefield interpretation centre

This is a tale of modern British heritage funding. The  Heritage Lottery fund is the only game in town,  It is the largest benefactor to the heritage sector disbursing £250m a year while funding from public sector through English Heritage and Local government has been cut back and funding for humanities and social science research has been greatly reduced.  The HLF funding critera are based on outcomes for heritage preservation, communities and participants in the projects. Arguably these are a fair way to apportion resources  between the  competing bids for funding for a range of calls for funding.

But there are consequences of this pre-eminence of the HLF.  The HLF funds “projects”, not  core resources, with a focus on matched funding and resources from, volunteers rather than paid staff.   The result is fewer tenured posts and more hand to mouth projects staffed by contractors working to the HLF standard rates which impose a ceiling for pay in the sector, substantially below those that apply to commercial business.

The HLF critera are weighted towards projects which engage a large number of participants. Projects needing  expertise such as battlefield archaeology fare badly.  The funding for Basing House appears to display finds discovered by early archaeological work, not funding research itself.  HLF will help to display what professional archaologists have found, but will do nothing to uncover other battlefields that may lie below the soil.

This is short sighted.  Advances in battlefield archaeology has made it possible to discover a lot more about the past.   British universities produce good  battlefield archaeologists and military historians.  Yet the funding is all geared towards projects which preserve buildings or inform and educate en mass.

Tourism is Britian;s second ;largest export industry, and heritage is our principle asset.  The Visit Britian plan is to increase revenue from tourism.  This implies developing new destinations.  The response to the discovery of the Boswth battlefield and then Richard III’s body shows the interest in old battles and battlefields.

It is crazy that the investment in new heritage assets is funded in such a haphazard way.  What other key industry is funded by charity handouts from the proceeds of a public lottery?  Which other key sector expects investments of funding to be matched by the time of volunteers from the big society?

British Battlefields is a voice to campaign for proper funding for the Battlefield and military heritage which attracts visitors.

15 May 1464 Battle of Hexham

hexham-battle
The “Traditional” interpretation of the battle.

Hexham was a short, but significant engagement in the Wars of the Roses resulting in the capture and execution of Lord Somerset, one of the main Lancastrian supporters and leading to the capture of King Henry VI.

collage_lb_image_page18_12_1
The Beaufort Company are a re-enactment group portraying Somerset’s men

After the battle of Hedgeley Moor, the Lancastrians failed to prevent the Yorkists from concluding peace negotiations with Scotland in 1463, and soon found that their northern base of operations was now threatened. It was decided to mount a campaign in the North of England to gather Lancastrian support before a huge force under Edward IV could muster in Leicester and move north to crush the rebellion.
The Lancastrian army moved through Northumberland in late April 1464 under the Duke of Somerset, and gathered support from Lancastrian garrisons until it camped near to Hexham in early May. A Yorkist force under John Neville raced north in vanguard of Edward’s larger force and the two sides met outside Hexham on 14 May 1464.

collage_lb_image_page18_1_1
The Beaufort Company marching from their camp

The Lancastrian camp was near Linnels Bridge over theDevil’s Water found slightly to the south of Hexham. The Yorkists crossed onto the south bank of the Tyne on the night of 12th/13 May and were by the morning of the 14th in a position to attack Hexham. Presumably the Yorkist advance was at speed, as despite warnings by their own scouts the Lancastrians had little time to prepare for battle.

It is thought Somerset rushed his forces to a site near Linnels Bridge and deployed his troops in 3 detachments in a meadow near the Devil’s Water, here he hoped he could engage the Yorkist army before it moved past him into Hexham. No sooner had the Lancastrians taken their positions than the Yorkists charged down from their positions on higher ground. Upon seeing the Yorkist advance the right detachment of the Lancastrian army, commanded by Lord Roos, turned and fled across the Devil’s Water and into Hexham, before a single blow had been struck. The remnants of Somerset’s force were in a hopeless situation, hemmed in and unable to manoeuvre; the Yorkist troops charged through the one opening at the east end of Linnel’s Meadow and engaged the bewildered Lancastrian soldiers.

Lancastrian morale collapsed, and after some token resistance the remains of Somerset’s army was pushed into the Devil’s Water by the Yorkist infantry. A chaotic rout followed, men either drowned in the river or were crushed as they tried to climb the steep banks of the Devil’s Water in the retreat towards Hexham. Most, however were trapped in West Dipton Wood on the north bank of the river and were forced to surrender when the Yorkists approached.

edbeaufort_beheading
Beheading of Somerset at Hexham

John Neville showed little of Edward’s concilatory spirit, and had thirty leading Lancastrians executed in Hexham on the evening following the battle, including the unfortunate Duke of Somerset and Lord Roos. Sir William Tailboys was captured and executed shortly after as he tried to flee north with £2000 of Henry’s war chest. On the loss of its leadership and bank roll, the Lancastrian resistance in the North of England collapsed. The capture of Henry at Bolton By Bowland, Clitheroe, Lancashire meant the rebellion was effectively over. There followed a relative period of peace until the Earl of Warwick’s defection to the Lancastrian cause in 1469 and the wars started anew.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hexham)

Hexham pages

There are two current interpretations of the battle/.  the positions are shown on the map.  The alternative interpretation is

There is an account on the Richard III Foundation page here

11 May 1689 Battle of Bantry Bay – First Naval Battle between Britain and France for 150 years

untitled

The Battle of Bantry Bay was a naval engagement fought on 11 May 1689 during the Nine Years’ War. The English fleet was commanded by Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington; the French fleet by François Louis de Rousselet, Marquis de Châteaurenault. Apart from the inshore operations at La Rochelle in 1627–28, the Battle of Bantry Bay was the first time English and French navies had met in fleet action since 1545.untitled (2)
The battle near the southern Irish coast was somewhat inconclusive but the French, endeavouring to supply King James II in his attempt to re-establish his throne, had managed to unload their supplies for James’s Irish campaign. But although the French failed to follow up their tactical success with strategic gain, Château-Renault had
inflicted considerable damage on the English fleet.

http://3decks.pbworks.com/w/page/913048/Battle%20of%20Bantry%20Bay

9th May 1689 – The start of the first Nine Years of a second Hundred Years War

King William  III of England
King William III of England

325 years ago, on 9th May 1689 King Willam III of England declared war on France. This was the start of what is known as the Nine Years War (1688–97) – often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg.  This major war of the late 17th century was fought between King Louis XIV of France, the domionant power, and a European-wide coalition, the Grand Alliance, led by the Anglo-Dutch Stadtholder-King William III, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, King Charles II of Spain, Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, and the major and minor princes of the Holy Roman Empire.

Although the Nine Years’ War was fought primarily on mainland Europe and its surrounding waters, it also took place in the British Isles.  The struggle between the Williamites and  Jacobites in  Ireland and in Scotland, are part of this struggle, with King Louis funding nthe Jaobites.  There was also a campaign  between French and English settlers and their respective Indian allies in colonial North America.

Louis XIV had emerged from the Franco-Dutch War in 1678 as the most powerful monarch in Europe; yet the ‘Sun King’ remained unsatisfied. Using a combination of aggression, annexation, and quasi-legal means, Louis XIV immediately set about extending his gains to stabilise and strengthen France’s frontiers, culminating in the brief War of the Reunions (1683–84). The resulting Truce of Ratisbon guaranteed France’s new borders for twenty years, but Louis XIV’s subsequent actions – notably his revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 – led to the deterioration of his military and political dominance.

Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV’s decision to cross the Rhine in September 1688 was designed to extend his influence and pressure the Holy Roman Empire into accepting his territorial and dynastic claims. But when Leopold I and the German princes resolved to resist, and when the States-General and William III brought the Dutch and the English into the war against France, the French King at last faced a powerful coalition aimed at curtailing his ambitions.

The main fighting took place around France’s borders: in the Spanish Netherlands; the Rhineland; Duchy of Savoy; and Catalonia. The fighting generally favoured Louis XIV’s armies, but by 1696 his country was in the grip of an economic crisis. The Maritime Powers (England and the Dutch Republic) were also financially exhausted, and when Savoy defected from the Alliance all parties were keen for a negotiated settlement. By the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick (1697) Louis XIV retained the whole of Alsace, but he was forced to return Lorraine to its ruler and give up any gains on the right bank of the Rhine. Louis XIV also accepted William III as the rightful King of England, while the Dutch acquired their Barrier fortress system in the Spanish Netherlands to help secure their own borders. However, with the ailing and childless Charles II of Spain approaching his end, a new conflict over the inheritance of the Spanish Empire would soon embroil Louis XIV and the Grand Alliance in a final war – the War of the Spanish Succession.

This was the start of what would be a second long century of conflict between Britain and France that would only end in 1815.

7th May A Forgotten Failure – the Siege of Leith 1560

560px-Siege_of_Leith_map,_1560A good Quiz question.  Which foreign army occupied a Scottish port for over a decade in the middle of the C16th?

A:The Siege of Leith ended a twelve-year encampment of French troops at Leith, the port near Edinburgh, Scotland. The French troops arrived by invitation in 1548 and left in 1560 after an English force arrived to assist in removing them from Scotland. They finally left under the terms of a treaty signed by Scotland, England and France.

Siege of Leith here.

Wikipedia article

Site opn the History of Leith 

One of the key episodes was the assault on 7th May 1560.    Elizabeth and her secretary William Cecil were exerting pressure on Norfolk for a result at Leith. To show that progress was being made, Norfolk started forwarding Grey’s dispatches and apologising for his deputy’s “humour”, asking that Elizabeth should send Grey a letter showing her thanks. Norfolk brought in expert military advisors, Sir Richard Lee and his own cousin Sir George Howard, who Norfolk believed would bring the siege to a rapid conclusion. Norfolk wrote to William Cecil on 27 April that it was a shame to have “to lie so long at a sand wall.”

It was planned to storm the town before daybreak on 7 May. In early May cannon were deployed to make a substantial breach in the western ramparts.  The assault was to be carried out in two waves, the first at 3.00 am by 3,000 men, the second by 2,240, with a further 2,400 holding back to keep the field. William Winter would wait for a signal to land 500 troops on the quayside of the Water of Leith at the Shore inside the town. As a diversion, Cuthbert Vaughan’s 1,200 men with 500 Scotsmen were to attack from the south, crossing Leith Links from Mount Pelham. James Croft’s men would assault from the north-west, presumably at low-tide.

Mary of Guise, Regent of Scotland from 1554 to 1560
Mary of Guise, Regent of Scotland from 1554 to 1560

There was an accidental fire in Leith on 1 May which burnt in the south-west quarter. The next evening Grey planted his battery against the west walls and started firing before 9.00 am, writing to Norfolk that his gunners had not yet found their mark. Next day, Grey was worried that the French had effected repairs so the town appeared even stronger. He continued with the bombardment and ordered his captains to try small-scale assaults against the walls to gather intelligence. Cuthbert Vaughan measured the ditch and ramparts for making scaling ladders.

The attempt was now scheduled for 4.00 am on Tuesday 7 May and by two hours past daylight the English were defeated. Although there were two breaches, the damage to the walls was insufficient. None of the flanking batteries were disabled, and the scaling ladders were too short. The result was heavy losses estimated at 1000 to 1500 Scots and English.

A report by Peter Carew estimated a third of the dead were Scottish. However, Carew’s total of six-score dead, which was followed by George Buchanan, is roughly a tenth of the other reports. The accountant Valentine Browne noted there were 1,688 men unable to serve, still on the payroll, hurt at the assault or at various other times, and now sick or dead. The author of the Diurnal of Occurents put the total number slain at 400.[61] Humfrey Barwick was told the French collected the top-coats of the English who had reached and died on the walls, and 448 were counted. The French journal claims only 15 defenders were killed. John Knox and the French journal attributed some of the casualties to the women of Leith throwing stones from the ramparts.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Leith

4 May 1471 Battle of Tewksbury

EXAMPLE RATINGThe Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV. The Lancastrian heir to the throne, Edward, Prince of Wales, and many prominent Lancastrian nobles were killed during the battle or were dragged from sanctuary two days later and immediately executed. The Lancastrian king, Henry VI, who was a prisoner in the Tower of London, died or was murdered shortly after the battle. Tewkesbury restored political stability to England until the death of Edward IV in 1483.

The Lancastrians arrived at Tewkesbury first on 3rd May. They had marched swiftly for several days, covering the last twenty four miles in just sixteen hours, and so their troops were exhausted. With Edward hard on their heels Somerset chose to stand and fight, rather than risk his army being caught in a bottle-neck as they attempted the difficult crossing of the Severn at Lower Lode, a mile south of the Abbey.

Somerset had the choice of ground and he chose to set his camp in a pasture close called ‘Gastum’ (now The Gastons) to the south of the Abbey. The next morning, the 4th May, he probably deployed his army between the Gastons and Gupshill Manor, with his left flank against the Swillgate River (little more than a stream) and his right across the gently sloping ground to a stream on the west. Thus Edward arrived to find the Lancastrians already deployed and so he arrayed his army to the south of and parallel to Somerset’s.

The battle of Tewkesbury was to prove a decisive encounter, which ended the second phase of the Wars of the Roses. Edward IV’s victory and the death of Henry VI’s son and heir, shortly followed by Henry’s own death and Queen Margaret’s imprisonment, destroyed hopes of a Lancastrian succession and led to fourteen years peace.

There is an annual festival to commemorate the battle and the town  has recently erected new statures.

_74498681_74488741

25 April 1464 Battle of Hedgeley Moor

Hedgely Moor 25 April 1464Today, 25 April 2014 is the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464, was a battle of the Wars of the Roses. It was fought at Hedgeley Moor, north of the village of Glanton in Northumberland, between a Yorkist army led by John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu and a Lancastrian army led by the Duke of Somerset. The Lancastrians tried to intercepot a Yoprkist force escorting a Scots delegation.  The ambush failed and the  battle ended in a Yorkist victory.  The site is  marked by a stone allegedly marking the point where a member of the Percy family made a leap on horseback to escape pursuit.

More here;

and here:

and here:

If you would like to visit the site of the Battle of Hedgley Moor or other sites of the Wars of the Roses in the North East, such as the battle of Hexham 1464 and the sieges of Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles  Contact British Battlefields or are interested in promoting the military heritage of these battles please contact   info@british battlefields.com

Brit_Bat_logo_lores

24 April 1944 Two B24 aircraft from the 392 BG did not return to RAF Wendling

 

Control Tower Wendling 1944
Control Tower Wendling 1944

 

On 24 April 1944 RAF Wendling, near East Derham, Norfolk  was the home to the 392 Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 8th US Air Force.    It had been opened in 1942.

Wendling Airfield 30 March 1946
Wendling Airfield 30 March 1946

On that day twenty five  B 24 Bomber aircraft took off on Mission  # 71 Target: Leipheim in Germany.  Two aircraft did not return.

#44-40105 (NO NICKNAME) “B-Bar” flying its  first mission: Pilot  2Lt Carl F Ellinger.  

Eye-witness reports from returning crewmen of other planes (Lts. Ambrose, Kamenitsa, and Weinheimer) stated that the Ellinger ship (received a direct hit from AA guns at position 50-50 N; 03-20E at 1558 hours on route back from the target and this flak had struck the aircraft just behind the wing section with the plane starting down and disintegrating before striking the ground and, no chutes were seen.

392bg-b24-1
B24s of the 392nd Bombardment Group

The tail gunner, Sgt Hasenfratz later recalled that after flak hit his aircraft, the front section exploded into flames and the tail section spun out of control toward the ground. He and two other crewmembers were in the tail section as it plunged 18,000 feet to the ground. Hasenfratz was the sole survivor.

04362 AIRCRAFT: #41-28688 (NO NICKNAME) “Q-Bar” 18th Mission: Pilot : 2Lt Travis W Griffin

Returning crew members (Lts. Sabourin, Filkel, and Weinheimer) gave the following eye-witness account of this aircrew loss: At approximately 1330 hours, the Griffin plane left the formation before reaching the target with 2 engines out, reported to be due to mechanical failure. The plane was under control but losing altitude gradually and was headed in the general direction of Switzerland escorted by 3 x P-47’s. German Report #KU1603, 25 April 1944, Airbase Command A7NII, Freiburg, reported the crash of this Liberator at 1347 hours, (12) kilometers southwest of Freudenstadt near Schappach, Schwarzwald (Black Forest) with 8 crew members being captured in same vicinity and 2 others found dead.392bg-b24-2

Later after repatriation from POW status, Sgt. Kelly was interrogated by the Intelligence Section at Selfridge Field, Michigan (a l/Lt. Roeder) and the crewmember gave this account of their mission mishap: That due to mechanical failures of three engines, #2, #1 and #3 in that order, their plane was unable to hold bomber formation position or altitude which resulted in all members abandoning ship over Freiburg, Germany. All crewmen successfully bailed out including the two deceased members. Sgt. Bryant’s chute was observed as open, but Sgt Gallup was not seen after he left the aircraft. This report was the only one available from any crewmember made after war’s end. The German on-scene report noted that the captured members were sent on to Dulag-Luft, Oberursel on 26 April 1944 for interrogation processing. (Note: No indication further was given on the possibility of the engine failures being caused possibly by enemy actions, or perhaps, contributing fuel management problems)  For more information on the mission check this page on b24.net

_MG_0334wendling

Wendling is now a Turkey farm, but the buildings and traces of the 392nd Bombardment Group remain.  More information on the http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/

A RATING SYSTEM FOR BRITISH BATTLEFIELDS AND MILITARY HERITAGE SITES

Hastings _2006
Hastings 1066 Battlefield. English Heritage property, good walking routes inside and outside the battlefield. Good access by public transport and car.

One of the first things that British Battlefields would like to do is to provide visitors with the information to plan a visit to a battlefield or other military heritage site. We would like to establish a standardised rating system for battlefields that make it easy for the visitor to plan a visit. This isn’t about the significance of the battles themselves, but what is there to see and do there. This information isn’t widely recorded and we would like the help from those who know the area to help to build up this information and keep it up to date.

Battlefields

Very few British Battlefields have an interpretation centre or are marked with information boards or a walking or driving trail. Unlike the exhibits in a museum, the exhibits are scattered over many acres, usually of private property.

edgehill_monument
This view over the registered battlefield of Edeghill shows mrolling countryside, if a little more enclosed than in the C17th. The viewpoint is next to the Castle inn, which until a burglary, held a collection of weapons, pictures and artifacts.

A visitor needs to know what is there to see. Is the battlefield landscape unchanged? Or is it only possible to see the historic landscape, from a single viewpoint with blinkers to hide modern development? Or is there just an information panel on an urban development which once was open country?

This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission
This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission

How easy is it to drive around the battlefield? Martin Marix Evans told me that the design of the viewing points at Naseby was inspired by the desire to avoid the difficulties experienced by his aged parent walking to the existing monument. It would be useful to know whether someone limited mobility could make a visit to a viewing and interpretation point close to a car park. Is there car parking on site or close by?

Barnet Battlefield 1471 - Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.
Barnet Battlefield 1471 – Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.

Is it easy to visit the battlefield by public transport? How far away is the nearest public transport stop?

How easy is it to walk around the battlefield? Is easy walking over foot paths? Or will the visitor expect to want through muddy tracks or over rough ground.

What interpretation exists? Is there a visitor, information panels or a leaflet? Or does the visitor need to read up before the visit or hire a guide to make sense of the ground?

What other facilities exist? Are there any lavatories nearby? Is there somewhere to buy a drink – or shelter from inclement weather?

Museums

turnham3
This information boar at Turnham Green is part of a walking trail around the London borough of Acton and Houndslow. At this point it is possible to look across what was common land one army’s battle-line to the other. Easy access by public transport. Less easy to park in the working week!

The same is also true of much of the other military heritage. Britain has dozens of Regimental museums partially funded by the MOD. There are also corners of municipal museums as well as private and local museums and heritage sites. Their opening hours vary as do the charges. It also helps to know if there are exhibits relating to specific campaigns units and personalities. They vary in their ease of access and their accessibility by car and public transport.

It helps to know who owns the site. Is this somewhere where an English Heritage or CADW membership helps? How expensive is it? Does a visitor need to make a prior appointment?

EXAMPLE RATING

We think it would be a good idea if people interested in military heritage could have a guide to the gems which exist in the countryside and in our many military heritage sites. British Battlefields is recording the information about tourist access for each battlefield. There is a draft scheme on the  page called “rating system,” This uses the tourist attraction map symbols from the 1:25,000 OS maps.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

Rating battlefields is quite a large task, and we would like to enlist the help of people with local knowledge.

  • Tell us what you think about the rating system.
  • Send in your rating of your local battlefield or museum.

INTRODUCING BRITISH BATTLEFIELDS

British Battlefields is a destination marketing organisation, commercial business with the aim of promoting and develop tourism to Britain’s Battlefields and military heritage.   Britain is not as well known as France, Belgium, South Africa or the USA for its battlefield heritage tourism.  But it should be.   We have many of the requirements to support more battlefield tourism, but these are not joined up in a way that potential customers can buy them.  By bringing together destinations and services British Battlefields aims to make it easier for potential visitors to visit Britain’s military heritage.

Battlefield heritage tourism should be important to Britain.  Tourism is our second largest export industry and a major source of employment.  People visit Britain because of its heritage.   Battlefields and military heritage is an under used resource.  There are over five hundred battles sieges and skirmishes in England alone and hundreds more museums and preserved military heritage.  British universities produce military historians and battlefield archaeologists in unrivalled numbers and quality.  Volunteers from the Battlefields Trust and local battlefield societies run informative and entertaining walks.  Throughout the year there are re-enactments and historic pageants across the country.  But you would not know this if you read the tourist brochures about the country.

The main reason why battlefield heritage is largely invisible is because there is no funding.  In the UK, funding for tourism is from the destinations, which favour those which already receive lots of tourists.

small but perfectly fortmed
Few British battlefields are as well presented as Flodden battlefield, which has information panels around a walking trail as well as “The world’s smallest visitor centre”

Much of Britain’s military heritage lacks much of what a visitor might expect from a destination.  Many of Britain’s battlefields offer little for the visitor beyond a view of the landscape, unintelligible without expert interpretation.  Few offer the basic facilities expected of any tourist destination. The travel trade isn’t really geared towards British military heritage either.  The tour operators who specialise in battlefield travel and the guides they employ, tend to focus on the well established travel business to the battlefields of the world wars in Europe.

There are some glimpses of what might be possible.  The millions of annual of visitors to the Imperial war Museums sites at Kennington, Duxford and HMS Belfast show that there is an appetite for military heritage.  The success of the Bosworth Visitor Centre in Leicestershire shows that people do want to visit old battlefields and has brought significant benefits to the local economy.  The rediscovery of Richard III’s grave has led to new battlefield tours offered by tour operators.  The development of modern battlefields tourism in France and Belgium shows it is possible to stimulate demand and make a difference.

British Battlefields offers services which will address some of the problems and make it easier for visitors and the travel trade to know what is available and to provide the services that lead to enjoyable and informative visits to our heritage.

British Battlefields will offer a voice and raise awareness of what is available. We will promote destinations and services via our website, and targeted communications to the media.  We will attend trade shows and provide an opportunity to showcase destinations and services.

Naseby_Misty Day
There may not be a visitor centre at Naseby, but a re-enactor brings the story to life and something to see when it is impossible to see the countryside!

We will help to design and promote products to tour operators and the public.  Few battlefields can offer the interpretation provided by the Bosworth Visitor Centre. But we can bring together guides and re-enactors who can provide an exciting visitor experience. Similarly we can bring together guides, subject matter experts and museums or heritage centres that can provide a day or longer on a theme.

 British Battlefields will offer opportunities for people who support battlefield heritage as a hobby to generate revenue for themselves and their causes.

 We will facilitate the development of the skills needed to operate to a professional standard.  We will provide training courses and access to other professional services.

 If you are interested in making a difference please support British Battlefields by joining as a member.