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.
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.