Basing House

The next, gripping* installment of the Sir William Waller Southern Association adventures...

Basing House was strategically important, on the road from the King's capital in Oxford, to the important stronghold of Winchester.

Replica saker positioned on one of the rampiers

Views across the remaining earthworks

Basing House was a Norman Castle, a Tudor palace and the home of the Earl of Winchester. The House came under it's first siege in 1643 by Sir William Waller. Waller had 7000 men but couldn't breach the considerable earthwork defences over the nine days of the siege, the defenders lost just two men.

 The Great Barn, which saw fierce fighting, and is one of the few buildings to still stand

 The second siege started in Spring 1644, this time Parliament's men decided to starve the defenders out. The siege was relieved in September of the same year when Gage marched from Oxford with a relief column. Gage was able to march unmolested, as his men disguised themselves as Parliamentarians (by wearing orange scarves). Unfortunately they gave the game away as they forgot that they were in disguise and attacked a troop of real Parliamentarian horse.

Gage withdrew to Oxford after relieving the siege; once his force had left, quelle surprise! the Parliamentarian forces returned. So Gage returned in November and all was quiet again...

...until August 1645 when 800 men returned to besiege the House. The garrison resisted until Cromwell arrived in October with a heavy siege train, including a cannon royal which fired a 64lb shot! By the 13th October the walls had been breached, Cromwell stormed the house and left the house a burning wreck.

The memorial to those who died in the sieges

Famed architect Inigo Jones was one of the illustrious residents of Basing House who was taken prisoner.

What's there now?
The  slighted ruins, a small museum, the remains of the earthworks and the inevitable tea shop. The Sealed Knot regularly re-enact a 'siege' at the site.

Tudor walled garden

There's one remaining loophole in the wall of the walled garden (and a clue to where you'll find it)

The small (!) museum has some interesting artefacts on display, but suffers from too many light sources and reflections so taking pictures is next to impossible.

Time Team excavated at Basing House, the episode can be found on YouTube. Basing House also appears in Digging For Britain series 3 episode 1 East. Occasionally turns up on BBC iPlayer, there is a very annoying copy on Daily Motion, which has been reversed and is in two parts: if you seek it out Basing stars from about 50 minutes into part 1, and continues into part 2.

A pistol ball from the Siege of Basing House, clearly showing an impact mark on one side. From my own collection.

A visit to Basingstoke will find a plaque on the site of the Falcon Inn, where Cromwell stayed. Located close to the Post Office on London Street.

* I might be over egging the pudding, somewhat, using the word 'gripping'

Selected Bibliography
The Siege of Loyalty House Jessie Childs, Bodley Head
The Civil War in Hampshire 1642-45 and the Story of Basing House G.N.Godwin, Alpha Editions

Love Loyalty: The Close and Perilous Siege of Basing House 1643-1645
W.J. Emberton, Emberton

Postcodes for SatNavs
Basing House RG24 8AE
(site of) Falcon Inn, London Street, Basingstoke RG21 7NT

If you enjoyed reading this, or any of the other posts, please consider supporting the blog. 


Popular posts from this blog

Pike and Shot: Campaigns 1494-1698

Sir Phelim macShane O’Neill's Regiment of Foot

Coat Colours Part 1: Parliamentarian Regiments of Foot

Colonel Ruari McGuire's Regiment of Foot

Coat Colours Part 2: Royalist Regiments of Foot

Warlord Pike and Shotte Epic Battles: the infantry sprue


Naseby - a Visitor's Guide

The Farndon Massacre

Warlord Pike and Shotte Epic Battles: the cavalry sprue