|September 3rd 1651
At Powick Hams and Fort Royal
The Battle of Worcester signified, at the end of the day, the final battle between the
Parliament armies and the Royalist armies led firstly by Charles I against the Earl of
Essex and then his son Charles II with mostly Scottish regiments against Oliver Cromwell
during the nine years of a bloody and civil conflict.
Cromwell arrives at Spetchley, home to
the Berkeley family, to create line of attack which extends from Elbury Hill (now Elbury
park) to Bund,s Hill near the Ketch Inn. A distance of some two and a half miles.
Parliamentary troops already established on Red Hill and in Perry Wood.
Lieutenant General Fleetwood positions at Powick near the Teme bridge. Meanwhile
General Lambert arrives up river to the Teme confluence with the Severn with boats to
build a bridge across the Teme.
Cromwell orders guns to be placed on Red
Hill and in Perry Wood and to fire on Worcester as a distraction while boat bridge is
being constructed. Major Knox leads his Scots regiment up Red Hill to try and quiet
the guns and another sortie is led to Bunds Hill. Knox runs into General
Fairfaxs regiment and falls into a trap. The sortie to Bunds Hill is similarly
indisposed. ` This was due to a Worcester spy named Guise who learnt of the sorties and
reported them to Cromwells armies. He was later caught, tried and hung.
Lambert finishes boat bridge across
River Teme. Plans laid to attack the Scots for the next day. Lambert returns
to regiment at Upton upon Severn.
The Duke of Hamilton is in charge of
Fort Royal with the main body of Scots, Lord Rothes has a strong detachment on the Castle
Mound, the whole of the Scots Brigade of horse is positioned on Pitchcroft under the
command of General Leslie. General Montgomery heads the Scots on the Powick Hams
with Keiths brigade on Powick Bridge where Prince Rupert defeated Fiennes in 1642 (the
first official civil war battle). Piscottys Highlanders are stationed near the bridge of
boats at the Temes mouth with Dalziels brigade in reserve at Wickfield on the high ground
overlooking the Teme Bridge.
General Lambert, with Dean, marches from Upton in the early morning to Powick. A small
skirmish takes place (see Powick church tower for evidence). The Scots are driven
back to the bridge which is held by Keith. Lambert manages to cross the Teme via the
boat bridge but is repulsed by Piscotty and his Highlanders. Again Lambert attacks
and this time he is more successful driving the driving the Scots slowly back towards
Worcester. This, in turn, forces Keith to abandon his Bridge stance or risk being
cut off on his left flank. Lambert and Dean owe their success to Cromwell receiving
news of the Royalist stance and sending three Brigades across the boat bridge to attack
from the west side of the Teme. Leslie is still positioned on Pichcroft with his
Brigade of Horse refusing to budge and go to the aid of Piscotty and Keith. Piscotty
escapes into Worcester through St.Johns but Keith is taken prisoner by Dean.
Meanwhile, back in Worcester, Charles is atop the cathedral tower watching progress.
He then quickly moves into evasive action and marches a troop of horse and
foot up the London Road towards Red Hill and the Parliamentary positions. The Duke
of Hamilton is similarly disposed but, leading a column of his own regiment, goes up to
Perry Wood, disposes of some musketeers hiding behind hedge along the lane, charges on the
canon and captures them. Charles attack to Red Hill was also successful in driving
the Parliamentary line further back up the hill. Again, if Leslie had moved his
horse and consolidated the general push by the Royalists then history may well have
The Parliament troops rally again and force another attack. Cromwell hears of the
lack of support and rushes his three brigades back from supporting Lambert and inspires
his men to fight on against the Scots. Hamilton is running out of powder and shot.
All along the Parliament lines the Scots are falling back. One last attempt
by Hamilton results in own his fatal wounding. Cromwell advances quickly
taking the advantage. Sir Alexander Forbes is struck down from his command of the
Fort Royal and the Kings Standard is torn down.
Meanwhile, the rest of Cromwells men make good between Fort Royal and Sidbury Gate taking
not only the Scots flank but now their rear. Cromwell orders the Fort Royal guns to
be turned on Worcester while his men fall on the easy prey of the now disordered
Scots fugitives who are struggling to get through the narrow Sidbury Gate. Cut off,
they are easily cut down in the mass slaughter (to be compared with Charles father at
Naseby and his great Uncle at Culloden) which takes place around Sidbury and up Red
Throughout all of this Charles is still outside the city walls trying vainly to rally his
troops from the entrance to the Commandery. An attack from a Parliament horseman
almost altered the whole course of history but misses in his attempt to cut Charles down.
One, William Bagnall, sees the Kings plight and drives an ox cart between the
Commandery entrance and the city walls stopping the horseman and allowing Charles to
affect an escape. He makes for his quarters in the Corn Market but not before
Fleetwood attacks across the river bridge, up Broad Street into Mealcheapen Street thus
cutting off the Scots rear to the west and the Bridge Gate. The Forgate to the north
had been built up, Cromwell is in control of Sidbury to the south and the Friars Gate was
already in control by the victorious Parliament troop.
The only exit left now is St.Martins Gate which adjoins Charles' quarters. The Lord
Wilmott finds a horse and brings it to the rear entrance of what is now the Swan With Two
Nicks Inn. Colonel Corbett with his troopers affect entry though the front of the
house leaving Charles to only just make his escape through St.Martins Gate, along a lane
to Barbourne Bridge, across the river and onto the Kidderminster Road heading north.
But that, my friend, is another story.
William Guise, the man responsible for informing Cromwell of the surprise attack to his
RedHill position by 1500 Royalist soldiers, was hanged from the sign of the Golden
Cross Inn along Broad Street the next day. However, Cromwell rewarded his widow with
the sum of £200, a large sum at the time, with an annuity of the same amount. Seven
years later to the day, namely September 3rd 1658, Cromwell died leading to the Royalist
story and legend that Cromwell sold his soul to the devil in Pirie Wood for a victory and
seven years of his life.
London Road was constructed in the 18th century as a turnpike road. The ancient
medieval road lays to the south and can be traced most of the way by a line of two
adjacent parallel lanes running from Cromwell Avenue and into Blake Street and follows the
natural gradient of the hill. Two large cuttings were made to ease the hilly
gradient for the coaches to and from London. The first was at Wheatsheaf Hill,
so called after an inn of the same name half way up the hill, and cut through part of the
defences of the old Fort Royal. The second is at Red Hill and cut through the
southern tip of Perry Wood. Pirie Brook flowed down from the tip of Pirie Wood and
because it once crossed the road is now channelled below the road through a pipe.