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Saturday, 30 January 2010

Events: Battle of Weymouth Civil War Commemoration Event

On the Saturday 6th February between 12.00pm and 4.00pm a FREE living history event will be held to commemorate the Battle of Weymouth of 1645 and the Crabchurch Conspiracy at the Old Town Hall, Weymouth.

Later on in the evening, the unique Dorset Celtic Rockers, 'The Dolmen' will be performing their new album, The Crabchurch Conspiracy, LIVE at 9.00pm at the Weymouth Old Town Hall. All proceeds are to go to the hall's refurbishment fund. Tickets for 'The Dolmen' performance are only £5, but are limited, so if you want to be part of this unique event please contact Mark Vine via thedolmen@thedolmen.com.

On Sunday 7th February, a commemoration march will take place with soldiers in full 17th Century dress, starting at Sandsfoot Castle at approx 10.50am, leaving at 11.00am on a route via Old Castle Road, Belle Vue Road and to the footpath at Bincleaves that leads to Newtons Cove. From there, up behind Brewers Quay to Franchise Street at Chapelhay, down the lane beside the Chapelhay Tavern and into Chapelhay Street to arrive at the Old Town Hall at approx. 12 noon. After a commemoration at the hall, the soldiers will leave at approx. 12.30pm and march along the old High Street (behind the council offices), then into Trinity Road and along to the Old Rooms Inn by the Old Town Pump. Here will be another commemoration and then the soldiers will march into Hope Square, finishing by Brewers Quay at approx. 1.15pm.




Above: Highlights of last years event.

More information: www.weymoutholdtownhall.co.uk and www.thedolmen.com/crabchurch.html

The History

The catalyst for the three and a half weeks of subterfuge, siege, pitched battle and executions, was a plot by royalist sympathisers in Weymouth and Melcombe, named the Crabchurch Conspiracy. Charles I needed a south coast port where he could land a force of French Catholic soldiers to help him turn the war in his favour.

A local merchant, Fabian Hodder, helped soldiers from the royalist garrison at Portland gain control of the Nothe Fort and the Chapel Fort of St Nicholas at Chapelhay in Weymouth. He set up the Royalist commander in Dorset, Sir Lewis Dyve, to attack Melcombe at the same time namely midnight on the 9th February 1645.

Francis Sydenham immediately made a counter attack to retake the Chapel Fort but he died early the next morning. Dyve then arrived in Weymouth. He bombarded Melcombe into submission, but William Sydenham reciprocated. Dyve refused the offer of a cease fire so Sydenham sent a raiding party to set fire to Weymouth. Several buildings and boats were set alight; finally Dyve ended the assault.

Lord Goring, a royalist leader in Dorchester, sent Dyve a baggage train of supplies but Sydenham took it. Dyve sent out most of his force to try and recapture it. Sydenham sent a large force and retook the Chapel Fort. Goring retaliated by attacking Weymouth.

On the 27 February 1645 the Battle of Weymouth started at around midnight and was ferocious. The town gate and the barricade at Boot Hill fell to Goring's men. They poured down the old high street, past the Old Town Hall, thinking the victory was already theirs but met Sydenham's weapons and forces. At least 200 cavaliers died and the rest turned and fled, pursued all the way by Sydenham's soldiers. A force of about 250 Irish catholic troops of Lord Inchiquin's regiment fought their way into Weymouth from the east. Sydenham's force fell upon them. The Irish fled into the freezing waters where around 250 were either drowned or were picked off by the parliamentarians (near the Old Rooms Pub). The Battle of Weymouth was over. Just over a thousand roundhead soldiers, led by Colonel William Sydenham had beaten off 6000 royalist troops.

This is all documented in Mark Vine's book,The Crabchurch Conspiracy, available at
http://www.thedolmen.com/crabchurchbook.html

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