Cropredy Bridge 1644 (1)

BFT Cropredy 01

Cropredy Bridge – the Battlefields Trust visit … June 29th

This was a well attended and extensive day out on the anniversary of the battle.   A walk on the Southern part of the field in the morning, a wreath laying with the Tower Hamlets Trained Bands reenactors after lunch, and a walk on the Northern and central areas in the afternoon.

BFT Cropredy 02(walkers assembled on the bridge for an introduction and some weapons demos)

This gave those who stayed for the whole day a chance to explore the main areas of action and walk the field.

The battle was essentially a failed Parliamentary opportunistic attack (Waller) on  a marching Royalist column (the King) …

The two armies were shadowing each other either side of the Cherwell, with the King marching on Daventry.    With the Royalist column strung out along the ridge opposite him, Waller saw the opportunity to wait until all bar the rear guard had crossed the river (at Hays Bridge) before launching attacks via Cropredy Bridge, Cropredy Mill and Slat Mill to chop the tail off the column and defeat it in the fields of Wardington and Williamscote.

BFT Cropredy 03(some views of the ground superimposed on the Trust’s context and action map)

In the morning we walked from the meet at Cropredy Bridge along the tow path to Cropredy Mill (the central of the three red advances on the map) and examined the movements of forces before continuing South to the Slat Mill crossing.

BFT Cropredy 04(Cropredy Mill: a portable demo board shows the action developing as Waller attacks)

Across the Cherwell at Slat Mill, the walk followed the strenuous ascent of Waller’s uphill attack on the Royalist rear.   The medieval ridge and furrow is still very evident here and reminds us of how the landscape would have been in the largely unenclosed 17th Century.

BFT Cropredy 06(looking back towards Slat Mill across the rising ground leading up to Williamscote)

Waller’s attacks here gained little traction.   Following his line of advance returned us to the main part of the battlefield.

BFT Cropredy 05(back at the bridge, some of the Trained Band of Tower Hamlets slope their pikes in respect to the fallen of 1644)

While Waller attacked the rear of the King’s column, Middleton made a determined cavalry attack across Wardington fields driving off the Dragoons that were guarding Cropredy Bridge and attempting to seize Hay’s Bridge to the North (thereby cutting off the tail of the column)

BFT Cropredy 08(looking down from the Royalist lines towards Cropredy and Waller’s emerging attacks) 

In fact, Middleton’s cavalry were thrown back from Hay’s Bridge and attacked (more or less in the flank) by Cleveland’s brigade from the ridge.

BFT Cropredy 07(the old stone barn midway up the slopes above Cropredy: it is contemporary with the battle and was used as a shelter on the night of the battle) 

BFT Cropredy 09(looking back up towards Cleveland’s up-slope position from the old barn)

A confused fight ensues in the fields, Cleveland’s cavalry supported by men from Bernard Astley’s foot, Middleton by the Tower Hamlets regiment at the bridge.

A detachment of Life Guards add punch, counter attacking across Hay’s Bridge, and the Parliamentarians are driven back across the Cherwell.

A bad day is saved from getting any worse by the stubborn defence of the bridge by the Tower Hamlets regiment, holding up the Royalists into the night.

BFT Cropredy 10(Cropredy Bridge: children enjoying getting in touch with their history)

Refreshments were laid on at the Church, who also showed us some of their antiquities, some of which may date to the Civil War – even the friendly staff in the pub came up with some plausible-looking shot found in an adjacent back garden …

BFT Cropredy 11

As usual, a very informative visit.

BFT Cropredy 12(Cropredy Bridge – 29th June 1644)

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One Comment on “Cropredy Bridge 1644 (1)”

  1. […] ECWBattles has a report ( … here ) on the recent Battlefields Trust visit to Cropredy […]

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