Display board on the bridge over the Shropshire Union Canal near Acton Church with views of Henhull battlefield (1)

The annual festivities around the Battle of Nantwich had to be cancelled this year.

Covid put paid to the usual events to commemorate Holly Holy Day including a Civil War author event in Nantwich and battlefield tour in Acton.

However, the town museum and a local business set up new features to view.

There are also permanent sites relating to the battle, that could be visited during local once a day exercise, if government rules and restrictions allow during the current coronavirus national lockdown.

Here’s Jonathan White’s guide to the best places to visit and learn more about the Battle of Nantwich.

1. Nantwich Museum’s website has added a new video – ‘The Battle of Nantwich, 25 January 1644’ – which outlines the build up to the Battle of Nantwich and gives a description of the Battle; along with related content including a film of the Battle of Nantwich re-enactment in 1972, a free downloadable children’s comic about the battle, and a range of English Civil War booklets: https://nantwichmuseum.org.uk/holly-holy-day/

2. Nantwich Bookshop & Coffee Lounge, at 46 High Street in Nantwich, setup a display in one of their shop windows displaying books by historical fiction & Civil War authors and a Civil War musketeer uniform and musket.

Nantwich Bookshop & Coffee Lounge - window display (2) (1)
Nantwich Bookshop & Coffee Lounge – window display

3. Volunteer Fields in Beam Street in Nantwich features a metal plaque & stone and a mature tulip tree gifted by The Sealed Knot re-enactment society during their fiftieth anniversary year in 2018. The metal plaque is attached to a reconstituted Cotswold stone inscribed with silver text on a green-black background and reads, ‘Dedicated to Nantwich by The Sealed Knot Society. Dedicated on 14th April 2018, this tree recognises forty six years of the unique relationship between the people of Nantwich and The Sealed Knot Society in its fiftieth year. On 25th January 1644, one of the decisive battles of the English Civil War was fought to relieve the Siege of Nantwich. This date became known as Holly Holy Day and is annually remembered by the Townsfolk of Nantwich and The Sealed Knot.’

Volunteer Fields - metal plaque & stone and mature tulip tree (1)
Volunteer Fields – metal plaque & stone and mature tulip tree

4. A display board on the bridge over the Shropshire Union Canal near Acton Church gives a good vantage point to view the battlefield. The display board includes the text: ‘From this viewing point you can look over the main area where the Battle of Nantwich took place in 1644. This important battle occurred during the first English Civil War (1642-1646) and was fought between the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and the Royalists (Cavaliers) who were loyal to Charles I. At the end of 1643, the Royalist Army had secured much of the North West and Cheshire with the exception of Nantwich where, surrounded by Royalists, the Parliamentarian garrison held out under siege. Namptwiche, as it was then called, was Cheshire’s second major town and very important due to its strategic position on the road to Chester. A Parliamentarian force under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax (1612-71) advanced from Lincolnshire to relieve the town. This army engaged the Royalists in the Henhull area to the west and defeated them in the Battle of Namptwiche. As Fairfax’s forces marched on Acton, Col Richard Gibson deployed four Royalist regiments of infantry to meet them. The Royalists fell back to Acton Church where Col Gibson surrendered to Fairfax. Many of the Officers took refuge in Acton Church and were also taken prisoner after surrendering. The battle took place on 25th January 1644 and it was a Parliamentarian victory. To celebrate the Parliamentarian victory people wore sprigs of holly in their hair and hats.’

5. Acton Church has pock marks made by musket balls on the side of the church.

Liz Parkin, Chair of the Holly Holy Day Society, said: “Nantwich is such an interesting town. We are fortunate to have these historical sites.”

Aerial view of Acton and Henhull - site of the original Battle of Nantwich in 1644
Aerial view of Acton and Henhull – site of the original Battle of Nantwich in 1644

(Words and images courtesy of Jonathan White)

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