Banburyshire village celebrates 380 years since Civil War battle with 'living village' and community event

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Villagers this weekend, celebrate the 380th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Middleton Cheney.

The celebrations on Saturday will include the blessing of the Middleton Cheney Royal British Legion branch standard at 10am which will be followed by a parade to the Village Green and Village Hall.

The free event has been organised to provide family activities, a cash prize raffle and a historical ‘living village’.

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The Battle of Middleton Cheney, on May 6, 1643, was one of a number of battles in the area which was at the heart of the English Civil War which broke out between King Charles I and Parliament in 1642 over money, power and religion.

Scores of those killed in the Battle of Middleton Cheney were interred at All Saints Church, Middleton CheneyScores of those killed in the Battle of Middleton Cheney were interred at All Saints Church, Middleton Cheney
Scores of those killed in the Battle of Middleton Cheney were interred at All Saints Church, Middleton Cheney

The website Freedomandsacrifice.co.uk says: “Around 700 soldiers from Parliament’s Northampton garrison tried to attack Banbury on May 6. 1643 after a fire there, but were intercepted trying to ford the river Cherwell to the south of the town by 600 royalist cavalry.

"The parliamentarians retreated, with the royalists following, until they turned and faced their pursuers near Middleton Cheney. The royalist horses attacked across a valley, under fire from parliamentarian artillery. They swept away the enemy cavalry causing the foot soldiers from Northampton to run away. The Royalists were victorious.”

It is thought the probable location was the spur of land directly south of the two 17th century villages, Middleton Cheney and Lower Middleton Cheney. The reports of the numbers killed varied between 100 and 217, of which 46 were buried in the church-yard of All Saints’ in Middleton Cheney.

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Local folk lore has the precise location as being on the north side where the war memorial for the First World War soldiers now stands. A project to commemorate the battle was started by Nicholas Haines, which has led to the installation of a plaque in the churchyard for the first time.

All Saints Church, Middleton Cheney, where - according to the parish register - 46 of those killed in the Civil War battle were buriedAll Saints Church, Middleton Cheney, where - according to the parish register - 46 of those killed in the Civil War battle were buried
All Saints Church, Middleton Cheney, where - according to the parish register - 46 of those killed in the Civil War battle were buried

A full account of the battle can be found in a new book by Gregg Archer, The Battle of Middleton Cheney, 6th May 1643, published by The Battlefields Trust, Northants, 2023.Middleton Cheney has a battlefield trail, which a three-mile walk around some of the key sites. It starts at the Dolphin Inn and finishes at the commemorative plaque in the churchyard. A map is available.