4th February 2024

Malmesbury steps back in time to mark its place in the English Civil War.

Malmesbury marks English Civil War.

Picture the scene: King Charles I’s Cavaliers are holding out in a Wiltshire market town when Cromwell’s men storm it. The result is a victory that sees the Parliamentarians take control.

Fast-forward 380 years and the battle that took place in Malmesbury in 1644 is set for re-enactment. Only this time the front of the town’s famous Abbey won’t become peppered with musket shot!

Commemorative weekend

A special commemorative weekend, from May 3 to 5, is being hosted by Malmesbury Town Council. It’s purpose is to mark the two years, from 1644-1646, when Colonel Nicholas Devereux’s Regiment took control of the hilltop town, at the height of the English Civil War.

The highlight of a packed programme of events will be two reenactments. One, on Sunday May 5, of the last attack on Malmesbury. Staging it will be living history group Colonel Nicholas Devereux’s Regiment of Foot.

Malmesbury marks English Civil War - a civil war re-enactment
Malmesbury marks English Civil War – a civil war re-enactment in Malmesbury

The regiment will make a large-scale visit to Malmesbury. They’ll bring with them some of the foe (the Royalists). And then, for the first time, they’ll re-enact the battle on the streets.

Malmesbury town councillor, Cllr Campbell Ritchie, said although reenactments have taken place before, this is the first time one will take place across the scene of the original attack in the town centre.

‘You can see the damage on the Abbey that dates back to 1644,’ he said. ‘But there’ll be no live ammunition this time. Though the battle will take place on the exact location, which brings a real level of authenticity.’

Malmesbury marks English Civil War - musket ball damage to Malmesbury abbey
Malmesbury marks English Civil War – musket ball damage to Malmesbury abbey

Many activities

The reenactments are among many activities planned to mark Malmesbury’s place in English civil war history.

On Friday May 3, there’ll be a talk at the Town Hall on ‘Wiltshire and Malmesbury in the English Civil War’ by Dr Chris Scott. Dr Scott is the former director of education for the royal armouries and an accomplished storyteller.

On Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5 in the cloister gardens and Malmesbury town hall, a military camp will be set up. It’ll have live demonstrations of:

  • Food preparation and cooking
  • The officers’ tent
  • Scribing
  • Dyeing and making
  • Sword skills
  • A beer shop and tavern and music and dancing.

An extra bonus will be a rare opportunity on Saturday May 4 to see the original of the unique bird’s eye wiew map of Malmesbury. It was produced to show the Devereux regiment’s occupation of the town, at the Warden and Freeman’s office on Market Lane.

All events are free, apart from Dr Scott’s talk, for which tickets are £10.

Campbell added: ‘The current Colonel Nicholas Devereux’s Regiment of Foot is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2024 and will be arriving in Malmesbury in force! They’re also bringing some Royalist opposition with them, which is a great way to mark their birthday.’

For more information about the Devereux Weekend visit the tourist information Centre in Malmesbury.
Tickets for Dr Scott’s talk are available at the Town Hall and at https://www.malmesbury.gov.uk/devereux.

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