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The Civil War around Birmingham 1642-1648

by James M Hyland

Orange scarves parliament red scarves royalist 17/10/42 1/1/46
"roundheads right but repulsive " " cavaliers wrong but romantic" quote Sellers and Yateman

Aug 1642 Charles I unsuccessfully besieged Coventry and moved off to Nottingham. He left a garrison at Kenilworth castle. Parliamentary troops from Coventry and Warwick moved on Kenilworth Castle and Charles I was forced to move his troops to Tamworth

Aug 1642 Battle of Curdworth Bridge Lichfield Road/ Marsh Lane Curdworth B46
Sir Richard Willys (cavalier/royalist) sent to escort 2 troops of horse, one of dragoons, 500 foot soldiers and baggage from Kenilworth Castle to Tamworth Castle. The royalists left Kenilworth traveling via Berkswell, Meriden, Packington and Coleshill, Warwickshire 1200 parliamentary troops plus Birmingham men tried to head off the royalists via Fillongley, Maxstoke and Coleshill.
Sir Richard Willys (cavalier/royalist) formed his men in battle formation north of Curdworth Bridge. He attacked the parliamentarians who were hemmed in by boggy ground south of the bridge. The parliamentarians retreated and Sir Richard Willys moved on to Tamworth Castle. 20 men were killed and buried by the south wall of the chance of Curdworth Church.

17th October 1642 King Charles 1st. (cavalier/royalist) marched towards Birmingham,

17th October 1642 Prince Rupert (cavalier/royalist) the king's nephew (cavalier/royalist) marched from Sturbridge to Solihull to meet Charles I. A parliamentary group under Lord Willoughby of Parham (88 horsemen and foot soldiers) on the way to Worcester surprised Prince Rupert?s men (300 foot and nine troops of horse) resting on King's Norton Green (still exists), a skirmish took place. 50 cavaliers killed, 20 taken prisoner and 20 (parliamentary/round heads) forces killed. Thomas Hall Grammar School (still exists) master later curate, imprisoned five times, robbed, threatened with death. His book "The Font Guarded" (1652) was the first book published in Birmingham, dedicated to the people of Birmingham. To whom he promised his library.
1662 act of uniformity expelled Hall as priest,
13/4/1665 Hall died, buried in the Kings Norton churchyard.
1892 books removed from church.
1911 books catalogued
1936 books displayed in central library
1983 a plaque to him on old grammar school.

18th October 1642 records of parliament report the skirmish at Kings Norton
Worcestershire south of Birmingham 18th October 1642 king Charles I stayed at Aston Hall Warwickshire (still exists) with Sir Thomas Holte

18th October 1642 King Charles I army (cavalier/royalist) plundered Birmingham (parliamentary/roundhead), while passing through. There was some looting and Charles had two captains hung for this. Birmingham was an important source of weapons giving the parliamentarian?s 15,000 swords and the royalists none. In revenge Charles I baggage train was captured in the manor.

18th October 1642 a clash occurred at Hawkesley farm the day after the skirmish at Kings Norton

19th October 1642 royalist baggage train taken to Warwick Castle (still exists) by parliamentarians. Captured troops taken to St Johns Church Coventry (still exists)

19th October 1642 King Charles I allegedly after staying the night at Aston Hall the King is said to have had his Royal Standard unfurled (and then he made a speech) at a nearby place - known thereafter as Kings Standing.

3rd April 1643 a.m. (Easter Monday) Prince Rupert, the king's nephew, known as "Prince Robber Duke of Plunderland' (cavalier/royalist) approached with 2,000 men and asked for lodgings, he was refused. He promised no reprisals for the
previous years baggage train robbery but he was not believed. Rupert's German mercenary dragoons were not trusted. Prince Rupert made his headquarters at the Ship Inn. Men camped at Kemp's Hill (now Camp Hill)
1974 Ship Inn demolished the parliamentarians only had 200 muskets and 140 musketeers from Lichfield, no artillery and no fortifications. They tried to barricade Deritend High Street near the River Rea. Two royalist dragoon charges were repulsed. The royalists led by Earl of Denbigh outflanked the barricades to the south, forded the Rea and came up lower Mill St and High Street Deritend, past the Old Crown Inn (still exists) and the Golden Lion (still exists but moved) now in Cannon Hill Park a skeleton complete with civil war helmet is supposed to have been found here in 1815.

3rd April 1643 p.m. A group of parliamentary horsemen led by Captain Richard Graves (grevis/greves) squire of Kings Norton /Moseley of Moseley Hall (still exists), (parliamentary/roundhead) were chased by royalists towards Cape Hill Smethwick Staffordshire. (he was in 1646 the gaoler of Charles I at Holmby House, Northamptonshire when a colonel but he was suspected of being a royalist
sympathiser and fled to France to join Charles). Robert porter
(parliamentary/roundhead) the owner of Birmingham?s town mill rode with Graves. The Earl of Denbigh in his 60's who had led the charge at Deritend earlier in the day, was wounded by a parliamentary officer allegedly Captain Richard Graves whom he was chasing along Shirland Lane (Shirland Road) near Cape Hill. Denbigh died on 8th April 1643.he was a favourite of Prince Rupert who it is claimed ordered the burning of Birmingham as a reprisal (according to Hutton 1782 the fire was started at no 12 Bull Street.) But as the town was fired on the 4th April four days before Denbigh died this is unlikely. This act was used as propaganda by the parliamentarians.1/3 of houses were burnt (80) some sources say immediately but probably next day, approx 5,300 residents in Birmingham

4th April 1643 Robert Porter's town mill, Lower Mill Street, on the River Rea, which made 15,000 swords for parliament was pulled down by royalists possibly because of the earlier wounding of Denbigh.

10th July 1643 Henrietta Maria Charles I wife marched from Walsall to Kings Norton (cavalier/royalist) She stayed at the Saracen?s Head (still exists) on the green at Kings Norton. She had an escort of cavaliers, 3,000 horsemen and 30 companies of foot soldiers. They camped by the River Rea, the area still called the camp and Camp Lane

11th July 1643 Henrietta Maria met Prince Rupert at Stratford on Avon

28th August 1643 Sir Thomas Holte's son Edward died of the plague while working for the king at Oxford.

18th December 1643 Thomas Holte borrowed 40 musketeers from Colonel Leveson of Dudley Castle.

26th December 1643 1,200 parliamentary supporters from Birmingham attacked Aston Hall held by Sir Thomas Holte a royalist. Royalist musketeers could not compete with parliamentary artillery. Aston hall was restored after Charles II restoration in 1660

28th December 1643 after a 3 day siege using artillery Holte had to surrender.
He was imprisoned and the house plundered. 12 cavaliers killed and 60 roundheads. Five soldiers buried in Aston churchyard according to church records. Aston Hall Aston Warwickshire (still exists) alleged civil war damage from cannonball still evident

April 1644 Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice (Rupert?s brother), the king's nephews, stole as many sheep and cattle as they could from Birmingham probably when Fox was at Hawkesley

April 1644 parliamentary/roundhead troops from Edgbaston Hall under Colonel Fox besieged Hawkesley farm and drove out the owner Mr Middlemore, a royalist/cavalier. The Edgbaston Garrison
1644 royalists took 19 horses and 150 beasts
1644 pillage by royalist troops from Dudley Castle and Lichfield
1644 Mr Middlemore a royalist driven out by Fox's men. Called colonel "tinker" fox because his father was a Walsall tinker and "the jovial tinker " ironically as he rarely smiled Fox desecrated the neighbouring Edgbaston parish church and built fortifications in the hall grounds. The lead from the church roof was melted down to make bullets. Roof timbers and stone were used to barricade the hall.
1644 fox also fortified Hazelwell hall in Stirchley (Strutley) before the c18 turnpike this was main route from Birmingham to south and west. Colonel Thomas "tinker" Fox self-appointed colonel of irregulars (parliamentary/roundhead). From Edgbaston Hall Fox parliamentary /roundhead troops sallied forth and captured Bewdley, took Stourton castle but was repulsed by a large royalist force under Colonel Gerard from Worcester. 

From October 1643 until April 1645 ?2.544 18s was spent on the garrison. Fox was accused of profiteering from the war. Porter the tenant of Edgbaston manor reported colonel fox for profiteering and was awarded the manor from fox. A newer house built 1718 stands on the site in Edgbaston golf club
Jan 1645 further royalist pillage by 400 cavaliers from Dudley castle led by Sgt. Major Henningham Prince Rupert (cavalier/royalist) arrived to besiege the parliamentarians in Hawkesley farm. The next day king Charles I arrived with more soldiers, the parliamentarians surrendered and the house was pillaged and gutted.
Hawkesley Farm Longbridge rebuilt 1654 there has been a find of ammunition in neighbouring fields. There are fragments of a moat, excavations in 1957/58 revealed a large barn like building Hawkesley Farm Longbridge near Birmingham Worcestershire this should not be confused with Hawkesley Hall in West Heath.

17th May 1645 destruction of Littleton?s house at Frankley by Prince Rupert, the king's nephew to stop it falling into parliamentary hands. The house is opposite the present Westminster farmhouse. Platform can still be seen, moat marked on map.
Rupert moved on via (allegedly) Cannon Hill in Edgbaston, Worcestershire near Birmingham to Naseby

June 14th 1645 the Battle of Naseby

1648 Scottish royalists commit further royalist pillage but are defeated at Warwick

Maps of Birmingham / Edgbaston/ West Midlands in civil war
Books Dr. Guttery the great civil war in midland parishes
Book Civil Strife in the Midlands R E. Sherwood floor 6 Birmingham Reference
Library 942.06 pamphlet 1 showing Prince Rupert and his dog "boy" which was killed at the battle of Marston Moor, Birmingham burns in background but is geographically incorrect as Daventry is east of Birmingham not west. Pamphlet 2 is a parliamentary propaganda sheet produced 10 days after the Birmingham skirmish it quotes 80 houses destroyed.

Civil War Links
Dudley Castle Civil War
Wolverhampton Civil War
Tamworth Castle 
Kenilworth Castle
Warwick Castle
Battle of Edgehill 
St Martin's in the Bull Ring


Curdworth Bridge
Kings Norton Green (site of skirmish)
Ship Inn Camp Hill (demolished)
High Street Deritend where old bridge was
The Old Crown Inn and the Golden Lion
Mill Lane Deritend (town mill site)
view up towards Digbeth
St Martins, Bull Ring
Civil War mosaic depicting the events of the Civil War "Battle of Birmingham" in April 1643. seat of fire started by royalists Colmore Circus Birmingham (near 12 Bull St )
Shireland Lane Cape Hill Smethwick site of skirmish and Denbigh?s fatal
Saracens Head Kings Norton (Queen Henrietta Maria slept here)
Camp Lane Kings Norton (site of royalist camp) the camp pub
Aston hall exterior
Aston hall main staircase
Aston churchyard
Edgbaston Hall
Edgbaston Church
Bewdley Bridge
Stourton Castle
Hawkesley House Longbridge (site of two sieges)
Cofton Hall (site of old hall)
Frankley hall site of
Frankley Church
Cannon Hill Edgbaston
Saltley Hall
Rupert St Nechells
Prince Rupert Pub Nechells
Cromwell Lane Bartley Green

James M Hyland E.ed., B.a. P.g.c.e.
41 Woolacombe Lodge Road
Selly Oak
B29 6PZ

Tel. 0705 0104145

Email James Hyland







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