The Battles of Middlewich

The ECW Travelogue returns with it's first socially distanced entry.

The First Battle of Middlewich, 13th March 1643

St Michael and All Saints

The First Battle saw Sir William Brereton's Parliamentarian army  take on the Royalists of Sir Thomas Aston.

Aston arrived in Middlewich with 500 horse, about 1000 Trained Band soldiers, and 3 pieces of artillery on Saturday 11th March. The next day Brereton sent a small detachment of dragoons to harass Aston's men. Meanwhile Lord Brereton was marching from Chester with another Royalist force. Sir William Brereton called for Parliamentarian reinforcements from Nantwich.

Booth Lane, taken from near the site of the Parliamentarian battery during the second battle.

By the Monday morning the Nantwich reinforcements had failed to materialise, so Sir William attacked with 200 musketeers and all of his cavalry. Aston sent dragoons to distract Sir William's men, and was told not to engage with the enemy. Unfortunately they didn't obey orders and the Parliamentarians took control of one of the main roads into Middlewich. Aston reinforced the Parliamentarian's route into the town and was able to hold the assault at bay at Waring Bridge. Sir William took to the fields and outflanked the Royalists blocking their way into town. By this time the Nantwich Foot had arrived on scene, their colours flying as they marched up Booth Lane. The Royalists fell back in disarray, Parliament's men getting the upperhand in the street fighting that ensued. Sir William's men took St Michael and All Angels Church and considerable numbers of men, arms and powder. Aston had been convincingly defeated.

Second Battle of Middlewich, 26th December 1643

Seconds out, round two!

The line of the Parliamentarian retreat to St Michael and All Saints

This time Sir William takes on Lord Byron, the heavyweight Royalist contender. Autumn 1643 King Charles wants to take control of Cheshire, and reinforces Byron's army with soldiers returned from Ireland.

Byron spent Christmas Day camped at Sandbach, Sir William reinforced his positions in Middlewich with an additional 1500 troops, mostly forming up around Booth Lane. Cannons lined up on Booth Lane, flanked by cavalry and foot lining ditches and hedgerows. Fighting was vicious hand to hand affair, until Byron charged with his cavalry, followed up by an infantry assault. The shock of Byron's attack scattered the Parliamentarian soldiers who fell back in disarray. Many were slaughtered in the streets; 300 sought shelter in St Michael and All Saints;  those that were able, fled to Manchester.

When Sir Thomas Fairfax entered  Manchester en route to Nantwich early in the New Year he was so shocked by the poor state of disarray of the survivors of Middlewich he personally paid to re clothe them.

Final Score
Parliament 1 Royalists 1

What's There Now?
Kinderton Hall where Aston's horse tried to rally during the First Battle was demolished during the late nineteenth century, but much of the site remains. Fish ponds, the remains of the moat, some outbuildings. The present Kinderton Hall on the site is an eighteenth century farmhouse.

St Michael and All Angels Church which saw the culmination of the end of the First Battle, and provided sanctuary for so many parliamentarians in the Second has a small memorial plaque in it's porch.

Booth Lane, the old road from Sandbach to Middlewich is now the A533. The land around  has changed considerably with the building of the Trent and Mersey Canal next to the road.

An interpretation board stands outside Middlewich Town Council, the car park at the rear of the Town Hall is an ideal base from which to explore the battlefield on foot.

For more Cheshire related Civil War sites see also:

Postcodes for SatNavs
Kinderton Hall, Byley Lane CW10 9LH
St Michael and All Angels Church,  Hightown CW10 9AN 
Middlewich Town Council, Lewin Street CW10 9AS

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