1643 - The Battle of Chelveston Hall

The following is based on local legend and conjecture.

At the start of the English Civil War, Northampton Town sided with Parliament, whilst the gentry left their county estates to side with the King. After the Battle of Edgehill (23rd October 1642), Charles I made Oxford his headquarters. Banbury was also under Royalist control.

Throughout 1643 there were various minor skirmishes for control of the north-south supply routes (now the A1, A5 and A6) across the county. For example, Rockingham Castle started as a Royalist garrison, was captured in 1643 by Parliamentary forces and later (unsuccessfully) besieged by the Royalists.

During one of these skirmishes, a Royalist force ended up at Chelveston Hall, which was located next to Hall(yard) Farm, in Water Lane. A Parliamentary force was summoned and approached from the east toward Caldecott. The local lanes were not ideal for horse drawn cannon and one cannon lost a wheel en-route. The 1930's field name map still shows the field known as "Wheel Away", next to Garret Spinney.

Field names

"Wheel Away" field - taken from the 1930's field names.

Eventually the artillery was set up on the higher ground overlooking Chelveston and the Hall was duly bombarded. No records remain, but it is very likely the Parliamentary forces won.

In the early 1900's, work at the Church required digging into the churchyard at the site of the former coke boiler house on the northwest side. A mass grave was uncovered, containing the bones of both men and horses, according to a report by Mr Henry E D Wise at the time. Since the burying of horses in the churchyard could be classed as a desecration, this was most likely done by the Parliamentary forces (who opposed the powers of the Bishops and the established Church), so the remains are probably those of the Royalist force and their mounts. These were removed and reburied elsewhere in the churchyard.

The church in 1910

The Church around 1910 - the chimney of the coke boiler house can be seen to the left.

As for the Hall, nothing remains. By the time of 1807 Inclosure plan, it had disappeared from sight. RAF ariel photography in 1925 (ref RAF VAP CPE/UK 1925, 2260-1) revealed soil disturbances where the buildings had stood, along with two large rectangular fish ponds nearby, up to 2m deep, which were placed at right angles to each other and parallel to the Chelveston Brook in Wateryard field.

Drawing of earthworks of Chelveston Hall

Drawing of earthworks of Chelveston Hall from RAF imagery.
Taken from "An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 1, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire"
A Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England survey.