This weekend, we will be marking the anniversary of the biggest battle ever fought in Britain – Marston Moor.
Over the weekend there will be events in the villages near York that surround the battlefield, organised by our friends in Sir Thomas Glemham’s Regiment.
The battle was fought on 2nd July 1644 and saw the Parliamentarians – led by The Earl of Manchester, Sir Thomas Fairfax and their Scottish allies – destroy the king’s army, led by The Earl of Newcastle.
The king’s nephew, the dashing Prince Rupert of the Rhine, had crossed the Pennines to relieve the siege of York. His orders from his uncle were unclear and did not clarify whether he should directly engage the Parliamentarian army. In the event, keen to take the fight to his enemy, Rupert attacked but a series of problems and delays for the Royalists meant that battle was not joined until late in the day.
Arguably, it was the discipline of Oliver Cromwell’s Ironside cavalry that won the day for Parliament, most of whose infantry ran from the field after bitter fighting. Having dispatched the Royalist cavalry, they wheeled round and attack the king’s infantry. Eventually, the Royalists broke and ran, with only the Earl of Newcastle’s white-coated men making a stand and refusing to surrender – whereupon they were virtually wiped out.
The battle lost the north of England for the king and, it can be argued, was the turning of the tide against him. A year later, Parliament’s newly-created New Model Army would destroy what army he had left at the Battle of Naseby. The Earl of Newcastle, having spent his fortune in the king’s cause. fled to the continent rather than, he said, face the ridicule of the court.
Programme of events
We will have three sites open to the public: Long Marston will portray the eve of battle, as will Marston Grange. We will have gun emplacements and soldiers drilling and all manner of getting ready for battle. There will also be a camp at Bilton church, which is where the field hospital was on the day of battle. ‘Wounded’ men from both armies will go under the knives of the barber surgeons, who will ply their grim trade.
On Saturday evening at 6.30pm there will be a short remembrance service with artillery and a musket volley at the Marston Moor Monument, situated between Tockwith and Long Marsden, to coincide with the time and date of battle.
The three living history camps will be open until 1pm. There will then be the traditional memorial march from Long Marston to Tockwith via the monument, leaving the Sun Inn at 2.30pm prompt.
Long Marston is situated on the B1224 between Wetherby and York.
From the A1 take Junction 46 Wetherby services slip road. At the roundabout take the exit after the services exit and follow signs for Wetherby racecourse; at roundabout take the York road B1224 from Long Marston and follow SK signs to campsite and living history site.
From York, take the York outer ring road A1237, then the B1224 Rufforth road to Long Marston. Follow the appropriate signs from there.
for more information about the battlefield, visit this excellent page from The Battlefields Trust.