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Friday, 1st Feb 2019
The forgotten county
By Tim Porter
Stones in his pockets
Wednesday 24th April 2019
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A small group of Society members gathered in the glorious spring sunshine for a short service to commemorate and remember “The Battle of Stow” and those who lost their lives that day in our town on 21st March 1646. The actual battle started around dawn just outside Stow when Sir Jacob Astley and his Royalist soldiers, who were en route to join forces in Oxford with King Charles I, were attacked and pursued whilst still fighting into Stow Town Square. By 7.30 am Parliamentarian commanders were writing their dispatches to the Speaker of the House in the King’s Arms. At the time we were assembled for our service, the scene left in the Square that day would have been one of carnage with blood running down Digbeth Street, we are told. Up to 200 Royalists would have lain slaughtered and as many as 1500 were taken captive and filed past where we stood to be locked in the church overnight and then marched to Gloucester the following day.
Reverend Martin Short conducted the short annual service and quoted the famous battle prayer spoken by Sir Jacob Astley:
“O Lord, thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not thou forget me.”
After the battle was lost Astley sat on a drum in the Square near the market cross and said:
“Gentlemen yee may now sit down and play, for you have done all your work, if you fall not out amongst yourselves.”
The Parliamentarians did just that after Charles I was captured and Cromwell assumed control of the Commonwealth. Charles II tried to regain the crown after the death of his father but was defeated at the Battle of Worcester. He managed to escape to the coast, passing through Stow-on-the-Wold on a route which is now known as the “Monarch’s Way” and across to France. Following Cromwell’s death Charles II was invited back and the monarchy was restored. His reign saw the evolution of our current democratic nation.
Daffodils were placed near the headstone outside the church and also on the grave of the Royalist commander, Captain Hastings Keyt, inside. Whilst the flowers are seasonal they do also reflect that many of the Royalist soldiers Astley had recruited had originated from the Welsh Marches as part of the attempt to bolster the Kings forces.
Members of Stow and District Civic Society commemorate the Battle of Stow including Chairman Nigel Surman, past President Vera Norwood and current President Tim Norris.