TOMORROW: Civil War soldiers will escort King Charles through Oxford!

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18404022_1702258246526781_1913620980335891942_o.jpgTo celebrate the 400th birthday of Elias Ashmole, founder of the world-famous Ashmolean Museum, King Charles I will parade through the streets of Oxford – with us as his guard!

This Friday from 6.30pm, with standards advanced and drums beating, a parade of Civil War soldiers and officers will escort King Charles from Broad Street to the Ashmolean Museum.

A special LiveFriday event at the museum then runs from 7pm to 10.30pm – and tickets are FREE!

Find out more about the fascinating history of Oxford during the English Civil War, meet the troops, see the King sat in state, meet the townspeople, sign your own oath of allegiance to His Majesty and much, much more! Immerse yourself in the 1600s with period dancing, music and quizzes.

Members of the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote, along with friends from the Sealed Knot and English Civil War Society, will be on hand to introduce you to one of the most turbulent periods in Oxford’s history – when it became the other capital city of England!

This promises to be a very special evening at one of the most prestigious venues in the country. Tickets are FREE but booking is essential. (£1 booking fee) Book here >>

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Find out where we’re battling this summer!

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Fancy stepping back in time to one of the most tumultuous periods in British history?

Do you want to hear drums call ranks of musketeers and pikemen to order, cannons roaring besides them as preachers and officers exhort them into battle? Do you want to see how life was lived by ordinary people during the 17th Century?

We have a full schedule of events this summer where we’ll be heading back to the English Civil Wars and bringing this important period of history to life across the UK!

Here’s a list of where the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote will be appearing this year, check out the further details below or click on our interactive map!

  • Ashmolean Museum, Oxford: Friday 19 May
  • Charlton Park, Wiltshire: Sat 27 May 2017 – Mon 29 May 2017
  • Newark, Nottinghamshire: Sat 22 Jul 2017 – Sun 23 Jul 2017
  • Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire: Sat 05 Aug 2017 – Sun 06 Aug 2017
  • Scampston Hall, North Yorkshire: 25 August – 28 August
  • Lancaster Castle, Lancashire: 9 September – 10 September
  • Edgehill 375th Anniversary, Warwickshire: Sat 23 Sep 2017 – Sun 24 Sep 2017

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Friday 19 May

Party like it’s the 1600s! Celebrate the 400th birthday of Elias Ashmole, founder of the Ashmolean Museum. From 6.30pm King Charles I will lead, on horseback, a parade from Broad Street to the Ashmolean Museum.

LiveFriday will then begin at 7pm – tickets are FREE. Elias Ashmole will welcome His Majesty to the Museum and celebrations for Mr Ashmole’s 400th birthday will run until 10.30pm. What gift will the King bring?

Find out more about the fascinating history of Oxford during the English Civil War, learn how to address the King correctly, meet the townspeople, and much more. With period dancing, music and quizzes, immerse yourself in the 1600s.

The Rooftop Restaurant and Crypt Café will also be open all evening.

Tickets are FREE but booking is essential. (£1 booking fee) Book here >>

Charlton Park, Wiltshire
Saturday 27 May – Monday 29 May

Buy your tickets in advance!

A major event at a stunning location in the Wiltshire countryside! The Sealed knot will bring to you the excitement of a battle with cannons roaring, cavalry charging, muskets volleying alongside a large living history camp which will be of interest to all ages. Have a word with the 17th Century suppliers of equipment and arms, see the work of the lace makers of the period alongside many more disciplines. Something for everyone, young and the young of heart.

ENTRANCE £15 PER CAR // £10 CAR SINGLE OCCUPANT // DISCOUNT WITH SCHOOL VOUCHER £10 PER CAR

Newark, Nottinghamshire
Saturday 22 July – Sunday 23 July

This July, the Sealed Knot will be returning to Newark to stage a battle reenactment on the sconce, one of the best-preserved English Civil War defences in the country.

On Saturday 22 July and Sunday 23 July, we will be helping stage spectacular English Civil War battles and providing an insight into how people lived and died at Newark in the 1640s.

Home to the National Civil War Museum, Newark is the ideal place to discover more about this important period in British history. From thunderous battles featuring cannons, muskets, pike, and cavalry, to the encampment showing you the life and times of the English Civil War, this is something not to be missed.

Children can take part in specially-organised pike drills on the camp, where there will be an assortment of trades and crafts of the period.

Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire
Saturday 5 August – Sunday 6 August

Once again the Royalist forces of the Duke of Newcastle lay siege to the Parliamentarian garrison in the stunning castle, now run by the National Trust. Come and see the skirmish and wander through the living history village. Discover more >>

Scampston Hall, North Yorkshire
Saturday 26 August – Monday 28 August

Sealed Knot members from around the country will flock to North Yorkshire for the largest Civil War event in the UK!

A spectacular battle featuring hundreds of reenactors will crown a huge Bank Holiday weekend event – cannon, muskets, and drums will sound across the parkland surrounding this magnificent house.

This is the perfect chance to see the Sealed Knot at its best. Just 40 minutes from York and half an hour from Scarborough, this great location is an ideal Bank Holiday treat for the whole family!

Lancaster Castle
Saturday 9 September – Sunday 10 September

To arms! Step back to a turbulent time in Lancaster’s history as the English Civil War returns – from the town’s brave defenders to the castle’s stout walls keeping plundering Royalists at bay! The Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote will be garrisoning the castle and giving the family the chance to experience what life was like in 1643 as King Charles and Parliament fought for control of the country. Witness live weapons demonstrations, talk to the soldiers, and see how people lived in the 17th Century in a superb educational day out for young and old alike. In this war without an enemy – which side will YOU choose?

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Edgehill 375th Anniversary, Warwickshire
Saturday 23 September – Sunday 24 September

The Sealed Knot end their reenactment season with a special event marking 375 years since the Battle of Edgehill, the first major engagement of the English Civil Wars.

Both sides hoped that the battle next to the sleepy village of Kineton would decisively end the squabbles between King Charles and his Parliament, yet the mixed outcome merely heralded almost a decade of warfare across the British Isles.

Come and mark the occasion with us as we take part in a huge battle reenactment at this historical location!

Besiege Newark! This July, the Sealed Knot returns!

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The Queen’s Sconce has stood next to the town of Newark since 1644, when it formed part of the vast network of defences thrown up to protect this Royalist bastion from Parliamentarian forces.

This July, the Sealed Knot will be returning to Newark to stage a battle reenactment on the sconce, one of the best-preserved English Civil War defences in the country.

On Saturday 22 July and Sunday 23 July, we will be helping stage spectacular English Civil War battles and providing an insight into how people lived and died at Newark in the 1640s.

Home to the National Civil War Museum, Newark is the ideal place to discover more about this important period in British history. From thunderous battles featuring cannons, muskets, pike, and cavalry, to the encampment showing you the life and times of the English Civil War, this is something not to be missed.

Children can take part in specially-organised pike drills on the camp, where there will be an assortment of trades and crafts of the period.

Keep an eye on our blog for more information as we get closer to this fantastic event!

This Bank Holiday weekend: muskets, cannon and pike come to Northampton!

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17796753_1656906064395333_5347088845753045927_n.jpgExperience a nation at war with itself in the Parliamentarian heartland of Northamptonshire!

At Billing Aquadrome this Bank Holiday weekend, cannon will roar and musketeers will volley as an all action battle unfolds when members of the Sealed knot recreate two forces, one of the King Charles I and one of Parliament under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.

Alongside this the 17th Century village will consist of trades who supplied the armies and crafts of the period, all presented by people knowledgeable in their field.

We’re delighted to be returning to Billing Aquadrome, just outside the centre of Northampton, for a weekend of bringing the English Civil Wars to life with the Sealed Knot!

Date: 29 April to 1 May
Location: Billing Aquadrome, Crow Lane, Great Billing, NN3 9DA

Order of events
Saturday
11am – Living history camp opens
11am – Regimental arms displays
2pm – Large formation parade with firepower of two cannon, followed by skirmish
4.30pm- Living history closes.

Sunday
11am – Living history camp opens
11am – Army parade
2pm – Skirmish
4.30pm- Living history closes.

Monday
11am – Living history camp opens
12 noon – Skirmish
4pm- Living history closes.

This event is being organised and run by The London Brigade of the Armie of Parliament of the Sealed Knot Society.

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Traitor at the Gate: who was Sir John Hotham, the man who closed the gates of Hull?

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4.a.jpgOn 23 April 1642, a herald appeared at the gates in the fortifications of Hull that led to the road to nearby Beverley.

He called on the governor, Sir John Hotham, to open the gates and admit the King, Charles Stuart, who was nearby with 300 troops.

Hull was a strategic port and site of an arsenal left after the Bishops’ Wars against the Scottish Covenanters in 1638 and 1640. Already limbering up for armed conflict against Parliament, Charles wanted access to the weapons stored with its walls. Sir John’s job was to make sure he never got them.

So he refused.

Yet in just a few short months, the same Sir John would be negotiating with the King’s allies to surrender the town to the Royalists.

This Sunday, reenactors from the Sealed Knot and the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote will reenact this moment with members of Hull Playgoers Society, next to the actual remains of the Beverley Gate.

But who was Sir John Hotham?

With five marriages and military service on the Continent under his belt, Hotham was MP for Beverley. Dismissed from the governorship of Hull because of his objection to the Bishops’ Wars, which he thought would damage the fortunes of the northern counties, he was nonetheless elected MP for Beverley in the Long Parliament of 1640 and actively opposed the King. In January 1642, Parliament re-appointed him governor of Hull and told to head there forthwith.

Specifically instructed not to deliver up the town or its arsenal without Parliament’s authority, when the King appeared before the walls on 23 April 1642, Hotham barred the town gates and denied him entry. The King declared Hotham a traitor, but Parliament praised his actions. In July, the King returned with a small army and the first siege of Hull became the earliest military action of the English Civil War.

Wenceslas_Hollar_-_Hull.jpgHull’s strategic importance increased during 1643 when the military success of the Royalist general, the Marquis of Newcastle, against the Yorkshire forces of Sir Ferdinando and his son Thomas Fairfax, as well as the defection of Sir Hugh Cholmley at Scarborough, left the city as the only Parliamentarian stronghold in the county.

Rather than attack the city’s impressive walls, the Royalists instead turned their efforts to trying to convince Sir John to change sides. Hotham had grown disenchanted with the Parliamentarian cause and its leadership and had already entered into secret negotiations with Newcastle to surrender the town.

But the indiscreet behaviour of his eldest son, Captain John Hotham, aroused the suspicion of Parliamentarian commanders. Captain Hotham had originally secured Hull against the Royalists with the support of the radical MP Peregrine Pelham and the Yorkshire Trained Bands, the local militia force. But military blunders, the poor behaviour of his troops, and his resentment at Thomas Fairfax’s authority led to the secret negotiations.

At a rendezvous of Parliamentarian troops at Nottingham in June 1643, Colonels Cromwell and Hutchinson reported their suspicions to their superiors and and the arrest of Captain Hotham was ordered. He escaped from Nottingham and fled to Lincoln, but was arrested again when he went to confer with his father at Hull.

Sir John himself made a desperate attempt to escape but was finally arrested at Beverley.

So suspicious and angry had people become with Hotham’s behaviour that one detractor at the time marvelled that after his failed defection he “found nott soe much as one man to lift a hand on his behalf”. His arrest was not handled with kid gloves:

one musketeer battered Sir John, felling him from his horse and striking his face with a musket butt, inflicting a grievous wound from which Hotham suffered until his execution.

Both Hothams were imprisoned in the Tower of London but worse was to come – when Newcastle’s correspondence was captured after the battle of Marston Moor, the full extent of their plotting was revealed.

The popular Parliamentarian general Sir William Waller presided over the court-martial of the Hothams in December 1644. Sir John was found guilty of treason – thus earning the dubious distinction of being declared a traitor by both King and Parliament – and despite trying to lay all blame on his father, Captain Hotham too was condemned.

Hotham was beheaded on Tower Hill on 2 January 1645, the day after the execution of his son.

Sir John Hotham was characterised by both sides as a weak man and a turncoat who, despite his steadfast handling of the incident at the Beverley Gate in 1642, showed his true colours by prevaricating, possibly to buy himself time to see which side would be victorious. His son was a hot-headed and stubborn man whose actions undoubtedly helped lead him and his father to the scaffold.

As described in Andrew Hopper’s Turncoats and Renegadoes: Changing Sides during the English Civil Wars, there was – at least – one upside to Hotham’s wavering – it kept the King’s forces outside the gates of Hull:

Whether it was due to Sir John’s second thoughts or his deliberate sabotaging of their efforts, the royalists’ failure to secure Hull’s arms magazine led to the king’s army being poorly equipped at Edgehill – itself a decisive factor in their failure to inflict a crushing defeat on the Earl of Essex.

He may have been a traitor but Sir John Hotham, probably without realising, did the Parliamentary cause one big favour.

THIS SUNDAY: we mark 375 years to the day since the gates of Hull were shut on King Charles!

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On 23 April 375 years ago, the governor of Hull, Sir John Hotham, refused to allow King Charles to enter the city and access the weapons stored within its walls.

This small act of defiance heralded ten years of brutal civil war between the supports of the King and those of the English Parliament.

On Sunday 23 April – 375 years to the day – The Sealed Knot and The Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote would like to invite you to bring the family and step back to this pivotal moment in Hull’s history at the dawn of the English Civil War – all taking place next to the remains of the Beverley Gate, the site of the unique stand-off between monarch and Parliament.

Re-enactors wearing the clothes of the period will march in the city centre to mark the 375th anniversary of Hotham’s defiance, bringing the sights and sounds of a 17th Century army on the march, with a special performance at the Beverley Gate to commemorate the occasion.

We’re very pleased to announce the schedule for this Sunday’s event:

11am – Youngsters can join in the occasion and make their own Civil War flags with Artlink, next to the Beverley Gate

11.30am – The costumed troops of the The Sealed Knot Society will form up on Paragon Street

11.45am – The Sealed Knot will walk down Paragon St, drums sounding and standards advanced, while The Lord Mayor and Keith Emerick from Historic England judge local youngsters’ flag designs

11.55am – The Sealed Knot will arrive at the Beverley Gate

12.00pm – The Town Crier will make a proclamation and the Lord Mayor will introduce the Playgoers Society

12.05pm – The Hull Playgoers Society will perform a play about Sir John Hotham and the closure of Hull’s gates on King Charles, 375 years ago

12.45 – Keith Emerick from Historic England will give a speech and the winning flags will be presented.

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Detail of  Wenceslas Hollar’s map of Hull from around 1640, showing the Beverley Gate

On 23 April 1642, Charles I arrived at the gates of Hull with 300 soldiers with the intention of securing the arsenal within for his looming war with Parliament.

However, Sir John Hotham had been made governor of the town and sent north by Parliament to stop the King’s design.

When Charles arrived at the Beverley Gate, Hotham refused him entry – with the novel political theory that an order from the King was not necessarily an order from the sovereign authority of that king.

Charles proclaimed Hotham a traitor and rode away disappointed. It was an early PR coup for Parliament, who could now argue that the King was attempting to arm himself for war. Within weeks, the first siege of Hull began – the first armed conflict of the English Civil Wars. That summer, the King raised his standard at Nottingham and the two sides were formally at war.

Hotham’s stand was the spark that lit the slow fuse of civil war and by the following September, England began a decade of conflict.

The complicated but tragic life of Sir John is currently being brought to life by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with Mark Addy starring as the doomed aristocrat in The Hypocrite.  Despite his position as the man who defied a king, Hotham and his son soon found themselves branded traitors and heading to the scaffold.

Easter: The Devil’s Holiday

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Much like their more famous ‘war on Christmas’, the Puritans of the early 17th Century also had Easter in their sights.

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The 1647 order banning the celebration of Christmas, Easter, Whitsun, and “all other Festivall dayes”

It has been said that the transformation of Easter into a secular festival second only to Christmas has accelerated in recent years. With the long weekend affording many families the chance to come together, commerce has not been slow in sensing an opportunity to capitalise and the profusion of Easter-related paraphernalia – gifts, cards, and confections – only seems to grow. “Easter”, one commentator wryly noted, “is the new Christmas”.

This would have been no surprise in late medieval England, where Easter outranked Christmas as the key festival of the Christian year and was surrounded by a schedule of feast days, public events, and rituals.

But the English Reformation saw much of the Roman Catholic ceremony associated with Easter striped away, in favour of the more austere – and, to the Puritan mind, more fitting – fasting, contemplation, and prayer.

Historian Ronald Hutton traces the downgrading of Easter to the lead-up to the English Reformation led by its chief architect, Archbishop Sir Thomas Cranmer, who energetically pursued a policy of destruction of many of the medieval rituals associated with the festival, such as the dressing of special ‘Easter sepulchres’ – an arched recess generally in a church’s chancel which, from Good Friday to Easter day, would have had a crucifix and sacred elements placed within it – a long standing English tradition that was effectively snuffed out as early as 1548.

As the effects of the break with Rome continued to spread throughout the kingdom, so too did the efforts to transform Easter from a time of celebration akin to the Twelve Days of Christmas into a strict religious affair. As the 17th Century dawned, Puritans mostly objected to what they saw as the immoral behaviour and Popish ceremony that surrounded these ‘festival days’, from mid-fast feasting, to a special ‘Easter-ale’ given to the labourers in Northamptonshire, and even a demand for free victuals in 1623 in Storrington, Sussex: “our parishioners claim of our parson by ancient custom to have bread and cheese and a barrel of beer in the church on Easter day immediately after evening prayer; which custom in regard of the place and day our parson admonished them to be unlawful, yet delivered the accustomed on Easter Monday; and most of the parishioners had into the churchyard without our approbation or consent.” (quoted from The Post‑Reformation: Religion, Politics and Society in Britain by John Spurr)

Sunday was to be the only day of rest, and it was to be spent in prayer and quiet worship, not carousing and drinking. In the 1640s, along with their efforts to against Christmas, they demanded a stricter observance of Sundays along with banning the ‘immoral’ celebration of Easter, Whitsun and saints’ days.

Easter itself posed a problem because of its anchoring to a Sunday in the calendar – it is always the first Sunday after the 14th day of the lunar month that falls on or after the vernal equinox on or around 21 March. Whereas Parliament could order churches closed and shops open on a normal weekday Christmas, they couldn’t do the same with a Sunday. In The Quest for Purity: Dynamics of Puritan Movements, Walter, E. a Van Beek says “Because Easter invariably fell on a Sunday, this was a problem for Puritan preachers who were consistent with their repudiation of of the traditional calendar. The usual solution was to preach a sermon that had no direct connection with Easter.”

As the First English Civil War reached its climax in 1645, The Long Parliament issued the Directory for the Public Worship of God, which replaced the hated Book of Common Prayer (which had helped spark the Civil Wars in the first place). It stated that the only holy day, according to biblical scripture, was the Lord’s Day and other ‘festival days’ were not to be continued. The diktat was widely ignored.

King Charles was quite keen on Easter and even when Parliament’s prisoner, tried to challenge its relegation. In the pamphlet “Certaine queries, proposed by the King, to the Lords and Commons Commisssioners from the Honourable Houses of Parliament, attending his Majesty at Holdenby, touching the celebration of the feast of Easter”, issued on 24 April 1647, he said:

“I desire to be resolved of this question why the new Reformers discharges the keeping of Easter? I conceive the celebration of this feast was instituted by the same authority which changed the Jewish Sabbath into the Lords Day or Sunday, for it will not be found in scripture where Saturday is discharged to be kept, or turned into the Sunday, wherefore it must be the Churches authority that changed the one and instituted the other; therefore my opinion is that those who will not keep this feast, may as well return to the observation of Saturday and refuse the weekely Sunday; when any bodie can shew me that herein I am in an error I shall not be ashamed to confesse and amend it.”

The reply, presented by Parliamentary commissioner Sir James Harrington, dismissed Charles’ argument, fired numerous ecclesiastical justifications back at him, and arrogantly stated that since God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh it follows that it is the Jews who were wrong and Christians correct, concluding “But for the observation of Easter to be an annuall festivall to Christians I finde nothing in the holy Scriptures.”. In a patronising postscript, the pamphlet ends by quoting Francis Waldack, the German Lutheran Prince-Bishop who brutally suppressed the Anabaptist revolt of Munster in 1534: “O Lord! What have we done that thou shouldst suffer us to stray thus? And in knowing times to be so strangely deluded?”

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London apprentices are chased off after protesting the loss of religious feast days

Moves to ban feast days prompted London apprentices to march in protest from Covent Garden to Westminster on 20 April 1647 and petition Parliament. Committed to their Puritan duty but distracted by their negotiations with the captive King and fearing further riots, Parliament only partially caved in and gave labourers a day off once a month in compensation: “all scholars, apprentices, and other servants, with the leave and approbation of their masters, should have such relaxation from labour on the second Tuesday in every month as they used to have from such festivals and holy days”.

In June of that year, Parliament formally passed legislation abolishing Christmas and other holidays:

“Forasmuch as the feast of the nativity of Christ, Easter, Whitsuntide, and other festivals, commonly called holy-days, have been heretofore superstitiously used and observed; be it ordained, that the said feasts, and all other festivals, commonly called holy-days, be no longer observed as festivals; any law, statute, custom, constitution, or canon, to the contrary in anywise not withstanding.”

Parliament much preferred the population participate in monthly fasts, which everyone – by law and regardless of the season – was meant to abide by. It seems, based on Parliament’s increasing frustrated demands for adherence in the 1650s, that few did.

In 1657, the second Parliament of the Protectorate further legislated to stop the continued ‘profanation’ of the Lord’s Day and, as described in Hutton’s The Rise and Fall of Merry Old England, it carefully defined the offence as “dancing, secular songs, music, wakes, revels, feasts, church ales, maypoles, `or any other sports and pastimes’. The act was to be read in every parish church by the minister on the first Sunday of each March. Anybody who published arguments against it was to be fined 4s or sent to the local House of Correction”.

Mimicking Christ’s actions at the Last Supper, Holy Communion has always been at the centre of the Easter ritual. But even that did not escape the period unscathed. The Puritans’ campaign against aspects of ‘Popish innovation’ re-introduced by Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud succeeded in many places with the breaking of alter rails, the reduction of alters, and celebrants taking communion at their seats. So successful was this pressure that – for some – even communion itself began to have the whiff of Popery.  In The Post‑Reformation: Religion, Politics and Society in Britain, Spurr details how the number of services featuring Holy Communion fell drastically over the 1640s and 1650s, and even those that took place would be poorly attended.

Hutton, however, cites the work of influential historian John Morrill to suggest that although occurrences of communion generally fell over the 1640s, in many parishes it remained key to marking Easter, even in the face of Puritan distaste:

“He was the first Stuart historian to make extensive use of churchwardens’ accounts, assembling a sample from 150 parishes in East Anglia and western England. He noted … that before 1643 the general pattern was for communions to be held upon great feasts such as Easter, Christmas, and Whitson. What surprised and impressed historians most was that 85 per cent of his parishes still did so in 1646, and 43 per cent still held an Easter communion in 1650. After this, the proportion rose, and did so still faster after 1657, until by Easter 1660 just over half were doing so.”

After the fall of the Puritan domination of English politics following the Restoration in 1660, Christmas was restored to the riotous festival we know now. Easter, however, never truly recovered. Although Easter and the celebration of communion remained at the heart of the liturgical calendar, Cranmer had done his work – the rich tapestry of pre-Reformation ritual and festival was gone.

What remains – Palm Crosses, Hot Cross Buns, Easter Eggs, “Pancake Day” – is but a faint echo of what was one of the most important festivals of the year.