Take a step back in time in Weymouth this weekend as the town’s celebrates its historic links to the English Civil War. The event will be held at the Old Town Hall, Weymouth to commemorate the Battle of Weymouth of 1645 and the Crabchurch Conspiracy .
Programme of Event:
Saturday 16th Febraury
- 11.00am - 4.00pm: Living History of military and civil life in the 17th century at the Old Town Hall. Judging of children's schools paintings by Prof. Ronald Hutton and Kit Berry. Drawing of raffle (approx 4.30pm) with lots of great prizes. Tickets available at the Old Town Hall and pubs taking part in the event.
- 11.00 - 4.00pm Re-enactment of 17th Century march by Parliamentarian and Royalist troops: Despatch of Parliament troops via public houses in Melcombe Regis (town); Royalist troops in Hope Square for Cameos (17th century drill demonstration) before despatch to public houses on Weymouth side, (see list of sponsors for those taking part) 12.00pm - 1.00pm Cameos on arrival of 'Beat to Assembly' sounded by Colour Party at each location. Parliament start at Black Dog; Royalist start at Old Town Hall. Form up at HQs (Parliament at Golden Lion; Royalist at Hope Square); 2.00pm Royalists march over Town Bridge, and go via Sailor's Return and Custom House Quay to join Parliament troops at Golden Lion. Joint march to Black Dog, then to Esplanade for 3.00pm -3.30pm Battle on the beach followed by march back to Hope Square for 4.00pm
- 12.00pm -1.00pm: Stuart Peachey - talk on the 'English Civil War in Dorset' at Pilgrim House, Hope Square.
- 1-45pm to 2-45pm: Professor Ronald Hutton and Kit Berry will be in Imagine Books of Weymouth for a double book-signing event.
- 4.00pm - 5.00pm: Selwyn Williams - talk on 'Life of Fabian Hodder and the Crabchurch Conspiracy' at Pilgrim House, Hope Square.
Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol University will give a talk on the English Civil Wars and Weymouth's own Crabchurch Conspiracy and afterwards, the internationally acclaimed Celtic Folk Rock band, THE DOLMEN will give a concert of their critically acclaimed 2009 album, The Crabchurch Conspiracy, based upon the events in Weymouth at that time, during which, Professor Hutton and special guest, the novelist, Kit Berry, who wrote the Stonewylde series, will narrate between each song.
Tickets for this performance are available at:
All profits from the event will be given to the Old Town Hall Restoration Fund.Sunday 17th February
- 11.00pm - 1.00pm: Living History of military and civil life in the 17th century at the Old Town Hall.
- 11.00pm - 2.30pm: Re-enactment of 17th century march by Parliamentarian and Royalist troops:
- 11.00pm: Depart Sandsfoot Castle after short ceremony and cameo. Joint armies march via Old Castle Road, Bellevue Road, Bincleaves (Combat display), Newton Road, St.Leonards Road, Franchise Street, Chapelhay St. Arriving at Old Town Hall approx. 1.00pm.
- 1.30pm: Depart Old Town Hall and march to Holy Trinity steps to take salute. Over Town Bridge to the Golden Lion, then via St.Mary St, St.Alban St to Esplanade and Pavilion for short ceremony. March down Custom House Quay to Maiden St, St. Edmund St, Town Bridge, Trinity Road, Trinity St, to Hope Square for final salute and ceremony, to finish at 15.00.
|Click Image to view fullsize|
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.
Above: On Saturday 7th February 2009 a spectacular re-enactment took place in commemoration of the Battle of Weymouth and the Crabchurch Conspiracy of 1645. This film shows the performance of the mock trial and execution of the traitors. Dorchester's Town Crier, Alistair Chisholm played the leading role of Colonel William Sydenham and delivered a stunning performance at the Nothe
By Mark Vine
This is all documented by local historian Mark Vine in his book, The Crabchurch Conspiracy, available at here via Imagine Books, Weymouth