The Battle of Nantwich took place in the 17th century, during Civil War in England,
when there was a power struggle between Royalists (Cavaliers) and Parliament (Roundheads).
The Parliamentarians held Nantwich. The Royalists wanted it, so Lord Byron's army laid siege to the town. After several weeks a Parliamentary army led by Sir Thomas Fairfax arrived, and defeated the Royalists in a battle on 25th January 1644.
The relieved citizens of Nantwich named the day Holly Holy Day and celebrated it annually. In recent years, members of the Sealed Knot Society have re-enacted the battle on the Saturday nearest to the 25th January. These photographs were taken in 2006.
The re-enactment is preceeded, probably quite realistically, with a flurry of activity as those of the colourfully dressed troops who have tarried slightly too long in local ale houses hurry to join their regiments. The formal proceedings start with a march along Welsh Row, the main road into Nantwich. The two armies march in regimental formation, shouting old slogans, and trying to look as fierce as possible (a difficult task in view of the welcoming crowd).
The armies march through town, then to Mill Island, a small island formed by two arms of the river Weaver, close to the town centre.
The original battle took place just over a mile north-west of here, in farmland now bisected by the Shropshire Union Canal.
On that occasion the River Weaver was frozen over, a sharp contrast to the mild winters of the past fifteen years.
The battle is re-enacted with much noise, smoke, colour, and movement.
|A fight between two troops of pike men looks like a giant rugby scrum in which each player is handicapped by having to carry a long wooden pole.|
|The troops enjoy themselves more that one would expect in battle. Even the dead and dying appear to be having a thoroughly good time. It is enough to make a bystander want to join-in next year.|