York and Marston Moor

This post, has, by default turned into part 4 of my Rupert's March North series (even though it predates the series by several months). Still not had the call up from BBC2 for a miniseries - bet Ben Fogle gets the gig, or Professor Alice (lovely speaking voice, as my mum would say).

York, as the country's northern capital had an important part to play during the Civil War. The siege, Rupert's relief of the siege and the resulting battle of Marston Moor have a lot to offer the wargamer.

But what is there to visit and see in York that will interest the Civil War aficionado?

Unfortunately, very little is presented to the visitor. There is a walking trail of the city walls which were reinforced and damaged during the siege; Clifford's Tower was garrisoned; the Yorkshire Museum has a fine collection of siege coins from the period, coins from the Middleham Hoard , and Black Tom's armour, all sadly not currently on display. Some fine photos of his armour can be found here, I particularly like the face guard of his lobster pot helmet. The Castle Museum has a fine collection of arms and armour from the period too, but unfortunately very little of it is on display (only a cuirass, a lobster pot helmet and a buff coat). Maybe there is just too much history and archaeology in the city!

Plaque on Micklegate Bar

A walk around the city walls gives good views of the city, the Red Tower area saw most of the ''interesting" action from the siege. The Red Tower is now used for a number of community activities.

St Anthony's Hall on Peasholme Green, is one of York's four surviving medieval guildhalls. During the siege ST Anthony's was an ammunition store, a military hospital and a military prison. Some of the old tables in the Hall are believed to have been used as surgeon's tables for treating the Marston Moor wounded. The Hall currently houses a church and the Quilt Museum and Gallery ( the museum closed a few years ago but can be viewed by appointment).

The definitive work on the siege is Wenham's "The Great and Close Siege of York 1644" whilst out of print can usually be found on online auction sites or through ABE Books.

Which leads us to the Marston Moor site.

Reasonably well preserved the site is about seven miles from the centre of York on the Tockwith to Long Marston road.

Considering that this is one of the biggest battles to have taken place on English soil there isn't much recognition of the site. There is a memorial obelisk with a new interpretative panel.

A number of rights of way cross the battlefield, and these provide the best way to see the battlefield - the Osprey Marston Moor volume has a good walking itinerary.

The view from the Royalist lines towards Cromwell's Plump (the tree on the skyline, rising above the hedgerow)

Cooke's "The Civil War in Yorkshire, Fairfax versus Newcastle" has summaries of both the siege, and Marston Moor. It also has walks around both the battlefield, and the City of York.

If visiting Marston Moor it is worth taking a slight detour to visit St James' Church Bilbrough, which is the location of Sir Thomas Fairfax's tomb. St James' is one of the churches which makes up the modern parish of Marston Moor. Open daily, please remember that St James' is a working church and behave respectfully when visiting.  Parking available on the road outside the church. As well as Fairfax's tomb they have a small number of artefacts from Marston Moor on display.

Selected Bibliography

The Great and Close Siege of York 1644 P.Wenham, Roundwood Press
The Civil War in Yorkshire, Fairfax versus Newcastle D.Cooke, Pen & Sword

Postcodes for SatNavs
Castle Museum/Clifford's Tower YO1 9RY
Red Tower YO1 9UJ
St Anthony's Hall, Peasholme Green YO1 7PW
Marston Moor memorial YO26 7PJ
St James' Church, Bilbrough YO23 3NT

Rupert's March North
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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