Tag Archives: C17th Civil War

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.

6th May 1644 Manchester Capture’s Lincoln

Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester
Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester

During the First English Civil War Lincoln was besieged between 3 May and 6 May 1644 by Parliamentarian forces of the Eastern Association of counties under the command of the Earl of Manchester. On the first day, the Parliamentarians took the lower town. The Royalist defenders retreated into the stronger fortifications of the upper town, which encompassed and incorporated Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral. The siege ended four days later when the Parliamentarian soldiers stormed the castle, taking prison the Royalist governor, Sir Francis Fane, and what remained of his garrison.

220px-Lincoln_Castle_Entrance-BAnew
Lincoln Castle

On 6 May, Lincoln Castle was stormed with scaling ladders, which proved to be too short, but the Parliamentarians nonetheless managed to scale the walls and enter the castle. The Royalists fled from the parapets, begging for quarter, which was granted. Parliamentarian casualties were eight killed and about 40 wounded. The Royalists had about 150 killed and between 650 and 800 taken prisoner.

Lincoln Historic Trust page on the siege  

The  Earl of Manchester’s Regiment’s Blog

27 April 1650 – Battle of Carbisdale

Village of Clurain. The Royalists were in the field to the left of the village, and fled up the hill in the top-left of this photo
Village of Clurain. The Royalists were in the field to the left of the village, and fled up the hill in the top-left of this photo

The Battle of Carbisdale (also known as Invercarron) took place close to the Village of Culrain on 27 April 1650 and was part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It was fought by the Royalist leader James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, against the Scottish Government of the time, dominated by Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll and a grouping of radical Covenanters, known as the Kirk Party. The battlefield has been inventoried and protected by Historic Scotland under the Scottish Historical Environment Policy of 2009.

John Graham 1st Marquess of Motrose. (1612-1650)
James Graham 1st Marquess of Motrose. (1612-1650)

For visits to places associated with the Civil War in Scotland, the Marquis of Montrose and other battles in Scotland contact British Battlefields.