The Siege of Crowland April 1643 - The First of the English Civil War
The siege of Crowland by the Roundheads led by Oliver Cromwell in April 1643 is not only an exciting story in itself but a landmark in the nature and progress of the Great Civil War between King Charles I and Parliament.
In April 1643 Crowland stood as a solitary royalist citadel commanding the approaches both to the Welland and the Nene, from north and south, standing alone and proud in a fenland almost entirely in the hands of the enemy.
Its leader was the Vicar, the Revd. William Styles, who on Lady Day, led a raiding party to Spalding and captured their Vicar and a number of leading citizens. Crowland prepared for what was to follow. The three causeways leading into the town were breached, earth works were thrown up round the abbey ruins and the whole area flooded. The townsfolk armed themselves with muskets ‘hassock knives, long cithes and other fennish weapons.’
Crowlanders had to first withstand
an assault by the relatively raw militia of Spalding, to be followed by three
trained Parliamentary forces attacking simultaneously – a foot regiment from Wisbech, dragoons from
Fortunately a vivid eyewitness account of the siege has survived: it describes human shields, premature drunken orgies, mistaken identity, a good deal of bad language, poisoned bullets, exhortations inside the Abbey and fighting outside.
What happened and how did it end? Come and find out.