Civil War returns to Barnstaple

The Siege of Barnstaple will be remembered on its anniversary with living history re-enactors the Sealed Knot outside Barnstaple Heritage Centre on Saturday, April 14.

THE English Civil War returns to Barnstaple next month as for the first time the town commemorates its role in the conflict.

On Saturday, April 14, 366 years ago to the day when the Royalist town surrendered to the forces of Parliament, a group of the Sealed Knot re-enactment society will recreate the moment.

The Civil War living history group will be commemorating the Siege of Barnstaple, with a variety of costumed characters outside the heritage Centre from around 11am.

In 1646 the town had been garrisoned by Sir Allen Apsley’s Royalist troops, but on April 14 he was forced to surrender to the Parliamentary forces commanded by Sir Thomas “Fiery Tom” Fairfax.

At 12 noon the Mayor of Barnstaple – Councillor Ian Roome – flanked by Royalist troops, will have the terms of surrender read to him by the victorious Parliamentarian troops of Harrison’s Company, Sergeant-Major General Philip Skippon’s Regiment of Foote.

He is expected to reluctantly but graciously accept the generous terms, which will be followed by a musket volley to mark the end of hostilities.

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The Heritage Centre will have a variety of extra Civil War information for visitors, including books for sale and a copy of the declaration of surrender. Staff will also be in full period costume.

Harrison’s Company is commanded by North Devon Sealed Knot member Dave Gibbons, who said Barnstaple was an important strategic point in the South West during the war and changed hands several times.

“In October 1642, the Parliamentary troops of the town actually rode out and raided the Royalist armoury at Arlington so it was involved right from the beginning,” he said.

“I’ve always found it surprising Barnstaple hasn’t celebrated its role in the Civil Wars because it was so important and virtually every important character, apart from Charles I himself, was there at one time or another.

“I’m proud and excited to be bringing this piece of history back to life, especially on the actual anniversary of the surrender.”

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