366 years ago today, Parliament’s New Model Army resoundingly defeated the forces of King Charles in the decisive fight that brought the first English Civil War to a close.In this epic battle, the Royalist infantry was destroyed and, without a field army at his command, the king’s attempt to impose his autocratic rule on England was over. Within four years he would be dead – executed at the hands of his own people – and the country would never be the same again. Hidden away in the Northamptonshire countryside, Naseby is an evocative but peaceful village that at first seems like an odd venue for one of the most important battles on British soil – a turning point in British history that ranks alongside Hastings and Bosworth. Yet just outside the cluster of homes surrounding the sandstone parish church, the long sweeping field that marks the epicentre of the battleground is a moving spot where you can almost picture the violent meeting of two massive armies and the clash of ideas that continues to make the English Civil War so fascinating.
With the help of the Sealed Knot, the Naseby Battlefield Project has been working hard to give Naseby the prominence it deserves as one of the cradles of our modern democracy. Previously, there was only a battlefield memorial – situated on the ridge from where Parliament’s front line advanced towards the Royalists – and a nearby memorial obelisk to mark this momentous event. However, the Knot has been involved in helping bring about the Trust’s proposed Living History Centre at Naseby, and special viewing platforms have been erected at the vantage points of key players in the battle – including Lord Fairfax and Prince Rupert – giving new perspectives on a confrontation that modern technology has changed our understanding of. Just off the A14, the new centre will not only provide a focus for understanding and study of the site, but also a purpose-made area for re-enactment, helping to bring the conflict alive for future generations.
The Knot has regular events in and around Naseby, from training weekends to sponsored marches, but all the while keeping focused on honouring the sacrifice of the thousands who died at Naseby field and who, whether they knew it or not, helped secure the rights, freedoms and privileges we now enjoy.
If you’re in the area, we strongly recommend you visit Naseby – the village where Britain changed forever.