Sunday, September 18, 2011

I have been to... Cheriton (again)

Last Thursday was supposed to have been a days holiday to allow me to finish off the "Round the Island*" race that we had tried to do in my mates yacht a month ago... for the official race we'd had to call the whole thing off as we were met by force 7's on the start line, and true to form the same thing happened this time as well! Kiss of death trying to organise a sailing trip - all pleasant weather goes out of the window... Free Happy Smileys

* (as in the Isle of Wight)

Having booked the holiday though I was loathe to cancel, and given it wasn't raining, just breezy, and so as not to waste a day off in idle activity, I grabbed the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and headed off to the site of the Battle of Cheriton [click here]... "we'll have a nice walk I said"... Free Happy Smileys

The following will help orientate the pictures following - and the post can be read in conjunction with the much larger post I made previously [clicky here] which should hopefully help make things clearer.... I've superimposed our route, and the location and direction of the photo's I took - the red and black dotted line shows the walk we made - in effect 360 odd years ago, and if you aspire to the "southern view"* of where the battle was we would have been, we walked up and down behind the Royalist lines.. 

* Opinion is divided on where the main battlefield was, those who follow the "souther view" believe that it was largely either side of the main road; the "northern" proponents believe the battle was to the north of the central ridge. I note that the on-site plaque (see above) hedges it's bets by having the Royalists deploy on the northern site, but advance to the southern site...!

Either way the trip was prompted by my reading Adair's book [click here for the review] while on holiday - he is a keen proponent of the southern "version" of the battle and I wanted a look myself.

We started however, with a visit to the Church in Hinton Ampner

All Saints church is situated within the grounds of Hinton Ampner House and is a grade 2 listed building going back to Saxon times. For the purposes of my visit today I thought that I'd read that one of the senior royalist commanders who had died in the battle was buried there, so I was looking to pay my respects - as it turns out I may be wrong (I need to do some more reading), but irrespective of that it's a lovely church and I lit a candle for the fallen of both sides anyway...

Having spent some time there, we then walked up to the ridge via Broad Lane - see the picture later for how close the terrain is...

After having walked up to the ridge we turned left (still going along the Wayfarers Walk) and walked all the way along to the far eft of the Royalist position - I didn't get any photo's as the hedges were a bit thick - next time I'll walk alongside the field inside the hedge... in the southern view of the battle, this was the flank and location of Sir Henry Bard's ill fated charge that lead his regiment of foot, unsupported, to be very roughly handled by Hesselrige's "Lobsters" who charged them in the flank..  " Sir Henry Bard's regiment of foot advanced to occupy a position between Hinton Ampner and East Down...  However, Bard advanced too far and became caught up in the fighting near the burning houses (in Hinton Ampner). Sir Arthur Heselrige took advantage of the situation by sending out a detachment of cavalry to block the Royalist retreat. The Parliamentarian horse then wheeled around to charge Bard's regiment from the rear. The Royalists were quickly overwhelmed and routed with heavy losses." Bard lost an arm but survived...  
Having turned around we then walked back past the top of the lane and over to the Royalist left flank as I wanted to see how close the wood was to the edge of the deployment....
Some pictures (see the map above).....

Most of my pictures were taken on what would have been the Royalist left flank, looking down the slope towards the Parliamentarian positions just outside Hinton Ampner (in the middle of those woods in the distance - click for a bigger view) ..

from the same position looking across the field south west.. Broad Lane is that line of bushes leading to the right of the picture

For this one I moved the other side of the hedge and took the same views... looking south

...and this time looking south east - the road runs behind the bushes in the distance.

Behind me was Cheriton Wood - largely replanted I suspect since the battle as it was full of modern soft woods, but still present, and covering much of the side of the battlefield...

"The first stage of the battle involved attempts to secure Cheriton Wood, which potentially provided a covered approach to the enemy's lines without having to descend into the hollow and then attack uphill. At dawn, under cover of mist, Waller sent an advance guard drawn from his London regiments under Colonel Walter Leighton to occupy the wood and threaten the Royalist left flank. Lord Hopton also realised the importance of the wood and positioned artillery to cover its edges and fire on the Parliamentarians as they emerged, which forced them back under cover of the trees. As the rising sun burned off the mist, Hopton sent Colonel Matthew Appleyard with 1,000 musketeers to clear the woods. In fierce fighting, confused by the fact that both sides had coincidentally chosen the same field sign, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Hopton led a column of Royalist musketeers in a flanking manoeuvre that succeeded in driving the Parliamentarians out of Cheriton Wood."

..and this was a view up Broad Lane, a covered lane of quite startling narrowness - there were a number of these on the battlefield and were the location of some of the bloodiest fighting... imagine trailing your pike or musket up there, crammed in on all sides by your fellow soldiers, frightened, high hedges on either side (impassable, whole of the bottom of the hedge is solid earth bank - think Normandy bocage) and waiting at any minute for someone to shoot at you from sides or ahead....  unimaginable...

Un-doctored map:

After a more than pleasant lunch at the Flowerpots Inn, where an infeasibly large roll full of Coronation Chicken, and two pints of Gooden's Gold soon restored the inner man ("a modern style strong bitter, quite hoppy, with a rich golden colour" it says, and Steve the Wargamer says "damn right, very nice indeed"...) , we then departed for home and family responsibilities.. a good day!

Further Reading:


  1. Creat pictures Steve and always good to see some from a battlefield

  2. Can't say I fancy tryng Broad Lane in the midst of battle. No way out should the enemy appear.

  3. Love the photos Steve. Great info too.

  4. Where did I put those 1.72 ECW chaps?

  5. Thanks guys - appreciated - Paul D.. love the avatar.... :o))

    CK - I know I know... if Newline ever do a 20mm range I'm SO lost... it's bad enough with Peter Pig doing the 15mm range!

  6. Good useful pics- its astonishing to think that most roads in England would not have been much wider than broad lane.