Ludlow was a Royalist stronghold in the Civil Wars that lay far away from the tramp of armies seeking the right conditions and ground on which to fight their foe. The only Parliamentarian blot on the landscape was the small Harley fortress of Brampton Bryan, but their garrison was small and had little offensive capacity. That did not mean that Ludlow was isolated from the war, for the Royalists saw it as a source of funds and manpower for their cause, which was to give rise to a growing feeling of resentment.
In due course the Royalists felt they must lance the Parliamentary boil at Brampton Bryan, but the first siege failed and the Parliamentarians seized the initiative and installed a garrison in Hopton Castle, which then had at least some vestiges of its curtain wall as well as the still remaining keep. The subsequent Royalist siege is covered in detail, as it resulted in the infamous Hopton massacre, which coloured attitudes to the conflict at least locally.
The Royalist capture of Hopton Castle and then Brampton Bryan in the Spring of 1644 saw them at the zenith of their powers, but it was short lived. The defeat at Marston Moor in July that year saw remnants of Royalist units operating without much central authority in the Marches which in turn helped cause the clubmen risings later in the year. Defeat at Montgomery in September was evidence of an increasing threat to Ludlow itself. In June 1645 the local Royalists were defeated at Stokesay, news that was hotly followed by that of the defeat of the main Royalist field army at Naseby. With the loss of Hereford that winter, Spring 1646 was to see the siege of Ludlow itself. Fortunately for the townsfolk, the Royalist governor of Ludlow only sought an honourable surrender.
In telling this story, and the subsequent life of the town during the Protectorate and Commonwealth, the author focuses much attention on how the events affected residents of the town, in terms of conscription, taxation, quartering of troops, sequestration, and using the strife as cover to settle old scores. He also attempts to gauge the population’s true allegiances.
John Barratt is a resident of Ludlow, and member of the Ludlow Historical Research Group. He writes and lectures widely on medieval and 17th-century history. His first full-length book, Cavaliers, was published in 2000. His other books on this period include Cavalier Generals (2005), The Civil War in the South-West (2007) and Sieges of the English Civil War (2010).
Paperback | 128 pages | 242 x 171 mm | 2013
40 b&w illustrations