When Sir Percy Chisholm, a mythical Cavalier from the 17th Century, suddenly burst in on the weekly meeting of Borderland Rotary, everyone was stunned – and rightly so.

Sir Percy explained, “I am here to remind those that know, and tell those that don’t, about the Battle of Oswestry, which took place during the English Civil War on 22nd and 23rd June 1644 when Parliamentarians led by Lord Denbigh and Sir Thomas Myddelton attacked and took control of the Royalist garrison in Oswestry, commanded by Colonel Edward Lloyd”.

The English Civil War was fought between the Royalists, who supported the King Charles 1st and the Parliamentarians, led by Oliver Cromwell, and it lasted from 1642 to 1651. At that time, Oswestry was far smaller, and the castle was surrounded by dwellings and shops, within a town wall, which is now only remembered in street names, but the central layout was much as it is today.

“On that fateful day”, continued Sir Percy, “Colonel Lloyd had, in fact, been replaced by a Colonel Shipman as Lloyd was thought to be rather too fond quaffing ale and feasting handsomely and neglecting his duties. And so, a Parliamentarians force arrived, surrounded the town, and drove a small Royalist force out of St Oswald’s Church after a short exchange of fire. They then brought up a canon and partly destroyed Newgate, (just by what is now, Red Square), but not so that their troops could enter the town. Seeking a volunteer to clear the way, George Cranage stepped forward, on the promise of pay, a liberal amount of ale and the loan of an axe he cleared the wreckage of Newgate. The shock of this panicked the Oswestry garrison and they hastily retreated behind the gates of the outer bailey. (At the bottom of Bailey Street.)

Now what?

“Well,” said Sir Percy grandly, “George Cranage was at it once again, having been plied with much strong drink and promised more money he was armed with a petard – a bomb in today’s parlance – and advanced to the inner gates where he set and detonated the devise to much effect and the garrison again scrambled, in disarray, back to the Castle itself”.

Sir Percy explained that the Parliamentarians decided not to storm the castle that day but wait till the morning and in that time the wives and families of the Royalist garrison talked them into surrender, rather than be slaughtered.

“And so”, continued Sir Percy, “Just as things were getting exciting, the battle ended. No more blood was spilt but, by order of Oliver Cromwell, the castle was partially demolished so that it could no longer be used as a fortress, they called this ‘slighting’ and records show that the former castle was left as a scenic pleasure garden for future generations of gentle folk like the present assembled company. And now, my work is done, and I must leave you – thank you for listening”.

“Not so fast”, said Andy Boroughs, president of Borderland Rotary, “You must have your photograph taken with us before you go back to the seventeenth century!” “What is a photograph? I know of no such device, you may set up your easel and paint my likeness if you care to”.

Pictured: R-L: Jonathan Jones, Andy Boroughs, Sir Percy Chisholm (AKA Justin Soper) Rob Hughes & Steve Jerman.

Picture (CBS)