Meet the faces of the ‘Storming of Bolton’: Royalist pikeman Conor!

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Almost 375 years since the notorious ‘Bolton Massacre’, Roundheads and Cavaliers will again descend on Bolton on 7-8 July for an exciting FREE event featuring thrilling battles and fascinating ‘living history’. Click here for more details…

Step into our encampment in the grounds of Bolton School and you’ll step back in time to 1644 – but who will you meet there…? We’ve heard from the Parliamentarians inside the walls, but what about the Royalist troops who will attack them?

While the Civil War in Lancashire was mostly fought by Lancastrians, the Royalist troops who attacked the earthworks of Bolton were anything but local – the force led by the King’s nephew, Prince Rupert, was drawn from across England and, shockingly to the Puritan population, included some Roman Catholic troops recruited in Ireland…

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Photo by Hendrick Pouls

“I’m not from round here. You can probably tell,” says Royalist Pikeman Conor.

“I’m from somewhere much warmer and less wet than this wretched place! Back home in Cornwall, I moved from farm to farm as the year went by, turning my hands to what work I could. Then a few years ago I caught word from my father and brother that our landlord was raising a regiment to help resolve this current unpleasantness and restore the King’s peace. I thought to myself, what nobler way could there be to earn an honest living?

“So far, it’s mostly been lots of walking and not having anywhere warm to sleep! I was taller and longer of limb than most men in our regiment, so I was drilled in the use of the pike. Our company ensign tells me it’s a gentlemanly arm, but I wouldn’t know much about that – all I know is it’s good for keeping these rebels far away from our shot!

“My first taste of action was seizing one of the county magazines – the store of weapons and gunpowder – where I found the armour I’m wearing today. It’s dreadful heavy on the march and hurts my shoulders fiercely, but I worry the day I leave it behind could be the day I need it most.

“We first came under the honourable Prince Rupert’s command at Shrewsbury. He pushes us hard and we march through some nights, but he’s a damned sight braver and more daring than anyone Parliament has to offer! We press north to relieve York, but we won’t pass up the chance to teach the Parliamentarians in Lancashire a lesson or two…

“Stockport was hard fighting, but I found myself a nice new (well—used) pair of shoes after we took it. Lately some soldiers have joined us from Ireland and some local men, too — Papists, would you believe it? — and so with numbers, our Prince and the Lord God on our side, I’m sure we’ll send these Parliamentarian curs running!

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Photo by Purdie Davies

“I hate this place. It feels like I’ve walked the length of England to get here, the people are backwards and strange, and it never seems to stop raining! Half the families we’ve quartered with haven’t even prayed from the same book as us. No wonder Bolton has no love for the holy church or their King. The sooner we put paid to such traitors as live there, the better!

“Til Prince Rupert’s command, you might find me playing cards at camp, cleaning my armour or schooling new recruits in the use of the pike…”

Come along and meet Conor at The Storming of Bolton at Bolton School, Chorley New Rd, Bolton BL1 4PA on 7-8 July, from 10am to 4pm with battle in the afternoon!

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