Pikemen outside St Marys Church Nantwich (1)

Holly Holy Day events took place in Nantwich and Acton on Saturday, writes Jonathan White.

There was no battle re-enactment this year due to the pandemic.

But there were Battle talks and bellringing at St Mary’s Nantwich, a wreath laying ceremony on the town square, and a VIP reception in The Crown.

Nantwich Museum hosted events and walking tours and St Mary’s Acton hosted a talk and a guided walk to view the battlefields.

Holly Holy Day traces back to the 17th century – but 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of the first official Holly Holy Day wreath laying at the Nantwich war memorial.

Percy Corry laid his own wreath in 1969 to remember the forgotten heroes of the Battle of Nantwich and proposed that the laying of a wreath become an official annual ceremony.

In 1972, Percy’s proposal was taken up by Herbert Rowsell and the Nantwich Historical Society and Holly Holy Day has been officially celebrated annually in Nantwich ever since.

Fifty years ago, the first wreath was laid at the war memorial by Sir Robert Grant-Ferris (MP for Nantwich and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons) with The Sealed Knot represented by Captain Andrew Gillitt of the Captain Generall’s Regiment of Foote and the Society’s Adjutant-General Lieutenant Colonel Hastings Read.

The 50th Holly Holy Day wreath laying took place with David Wilson (Holly Holy Day committee) the master of ceremony, with prayers and an act of remembrance conducted by Revd. Dr Mark Hart (Rector of St Mary’s Church Nantwich).

Wreath laying ceremony led by Revd. Dr Mark Hart (Rector of St Mary's Church Nantwich) (1)

The three wreaths were laid by Lord-Lieutenant of the County of Cheshire, Lady Redmond MBE, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen; Mayor of Nantwich Councillor Stuart Bostock on behalf of the town and citizens of Nantwich; and Simon Wright, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Sealed Knot.

After the ceremony the participants gathered around the war memorial to recreate a photograph taken in 1972.

The 2022 photograph included Herbert Rowsell, who featured in the original photo.

The 1972 photo can be viewed on Nantwich Museum’s Cheshire Civil War Centre Facebook page.

The wreath laying was preceded by Battle talks in St Mary’s Church.

Nantwich’s new Town Crier, Devlin Hobson, announced the event to the town.

The event was compered by Liz Parkin (Holly Holy Day committee) and included talks relating to the Battle of Nantwich by historian Keith Lawrence and Alex Thompson (The Sealed Knot), who was dressed as an English Civil War Officer, alongside a Musketeer and a Pikeman of the same period.

Pikemen and musketeers on Nantwich town square after wreath laying (1)

Numerous members of The Sealed Knot in English Civil War costumes were on guard outside the entrance to St Mary’s Church, whilst the church bells ringed out.

The talks concluded with a colour video from first Battle of Nantwich re-enactment, on Barony Park, on Saturday 27th January 1973.

Next year (2023) will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Battle of Nantwich re-enactment.

After the wreath laying there was a reception for dignitaries in The Crown with a cake to toast Holly Holy Day’s 50th anniversary year.

The reception was sponsored by Whitegates estate agents and letting agents – Shaun Cafferty (Whitegates owner) and his dad Keith Cafferty were both on the Holly Holy Day committee for 15 years.

Nantwich Museum led two Battle of Nantwich guided walking tours and on display within the museum there a scale-model showing the pivotal moment during the Battle of Nantwich when the garrison attacked the Royalist army.

Museum volunteers Keith Lawrence and David Nellist were on hand to explain the model and other key events during the Battle of Nantwich.

There was also a new interactive touchscreen about The English Civil War & Battle of Nantwich with sections relating to What was happening in Nantwich?, The Battle, Uniform and Weaponry, Meet the Locals, The Battlefield, and the Battle of Nantwich Re-enactments in 1973 and 1994.

The museum’s permanent Cheshire Civil War Centre displays and exhibits also give an opportunity to learn about this fascinating period in history.

St Mary’s Church in Acton was open with ‘Tea at the Tower’ volunteers serving hot drinks and buttered toast.

A talk entitled ‘The Civil War – Explained’ was delivered to an audience of sixty people by local historian Mike Lea inside the Church.

Afterwards, the audience followed Nick Harley for a guided walk to view the battlefields. Charles Hull (church volunteer) assisted with answering questions.

Liz Parkin said: “It’s a shame we couldn’t celebrate the 50th anniversary with a full battle, but instead we marked it in a very special way with key members of the organising team past and present.

“I was particularly delighted to see Herbert Roswell and welcome back my predecessor Keith Cafferty.”

(Images courtesy of Jonathan White)

Simon Wright (Chairman of The Sealed Knot) lays a wreath at Nantwich war memorial (1)
Simon Wright (Chairman of The Sealed Knot) lays a wreath at Nantwich war memorial
Sealed Knot members in English Civil War attire on Nantwich town square during the wreath laying (1)
Sealed Knot members in English Civil War attire on Nantwich town square during the wreath laying
Recreating 1972 wreath laying photo - Herbert Rowsell sitting with red scarf (1)
Recreating 1972 wreath laying photo – Herbert Rowsell sitting with red scarf
The three wreaths on the war memorial with St Marys Nantwich in the background (1)
The three wreaths on the war memorial with St Marys Nantwich in the background
Nantwich Museum - Visitor Christopher White views the Battle of Nantwich scale-model (1)
Nantwich Museum – Visitor Christopher White views the Battle of Nantwich scale-model
Alex Thompson (centre) of The Sealed Knot gives a talk inside St Marys Nantwich relating to the English Civil War alongside a Musketeer and a Pikeman (1)
Alex Thompson (centre) of The Sealed Knot gives a talk inside St Mary’s Nantwich relating to the English Civil War alongside a Musketeer and a Pikeman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website, to learn more please read our privacy policy.

*

Captcha * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.