Keep it a Civil War

YOU can’t move at the moment for Royalists and Parliamentarians who have taken Weymouth over for their annual re-enactment of the Battle of Weymouth in 1645.

Having a pike rammed up your left nostril, a musket dropped on your foot or sword sharpening going on all around you takes a bit of getting used to.

The Old Town Hall and the new Weymouth Timewalk Heritage and Visitor Centre have been welcoming scores of visitors to see costumed re-enactors do a nice bit of seamstressing or to hear about the famous battle and the events surrounding it which have become known as the Crabchurch Conspiracy.

History records that Charles I needed a south coast port through which he could land French Catholic soldiers to help him win the war, but Royalists lost the Battle of Weymouth and hundreds of soldiers lost their lives.

As the attempt to take Weymouth faltered it was left to a brave Irish rearguard to buy the Royalist army time to escape at the expense of their lives.

There was a certain ghoulish glee from re-enactors as they recounted the bloody end of 250 Irish soldiers, caught between two blocks of pikemen who slowly forced them into the harbour where they either drowned or were shot by the Parliamentarians. Lovely stuff.

Of course, all this re-enactment huffing and puffing is thirsty work and the historic Boot pub is doing brisk business with Royalist and Roundhead alike, some of whom amusingly bring their own tankards with them suspended from their broad leather belts on a piece of string. Now that’s being prepared!

If you can keep out from under the feet of various Civil War groups then there is plenty to see.

Hope Square today and tomorrow will see various drills and displays, Pilgrim House is also a Civil War hotspot and the new Visitor Centre can be a startling place for visitors greeted by the sight of swordsmen lounging about, assembling ancient weapons or talking about the merits of black powder.

This afternoon will see a pitched battle on the beach staged between the two sides complete with musket firing and the obligatory screams of wounded and dying.

Finally there will be a joint Royalist-Roundhead march tomorrow from Sandsfoot Castle first to the Boot and then along North Quay to Holy Trinity Church where Weymouth and Portland Mayor Councillor Margaret Leicester will take the salute.

As if all this were not enough, popular local group The Dolmen will be appearing and performing at Weymouth College Bay Theatre tonight where historian Professor Ronald Hutton and author Kit Berry will also be dipping into history.

So successful are the town’s re-enactment events proving several more big historical extravaganzas are now being planned.



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