Newbury Velo news

Velo Quest - Battle of Newbury June 2020

NV quest

This week's Newbury Velo Quest is a great history lesson for anyone in the Newbury area. The Battle of Newbury is the theme! As ever, we welcome all members AND non-members to take part in our bi-monthly Quests and post up as many photographs as you can of the sites you come across on the routes - you have the next two weeks to do it!

Here's a little history about the battle with the routes of the Quests following (thanks to Kevin Hurley for putting this together):

In late summer 1643 the Parliamentary forces in the English Civil War were one loss away from defeat. After lifting the siege of Gloucester they were heading back towards their base in London along a route that included Aldbourne, Hungerford, Kintbury, Enbourne and Newbury. The Royalist forces led by The King and Prince Rupert intended force them into a decisive battle. On 18th September 1643 Prince Rupert's cavalry attacked the parliamentary forces just west of Aldbourne and managed to slow their march down to ensure the two main armies would meet at Newbury. The 50 mile route takes in this area, look to the ridge on your right as you travel down Lottage Road west of Aldbourne to see where this happened.

In early evening on the 19th September the Royalist cavalry arrived at Donnington Castle and surveyed Newbury before them. This is the first stop on our rides, it's worth walking the short path to the castle to get the same view they had. You'll see the town below you ( they immediately took the supplies that were waiting for the Parliamentary army in the town ), and you'll also see the ridge over by Wash Common on the opposite side of the valley where they knew the Parliamentary army would soon be arriving.

Our rides will then loop out west to then approach Newbury using the same roads the Parliamentary army used. On Enbourne Street 400 meters west of the A34 next to a T junction you'll see an old thatched cottage called Biggs Cottage, this is where the Parliamentary commander, The Earl of Essex, stayed on the 19th of September ( the night before the battle ). As you cycle towards Wash Common, note the high hedged lanes around that area. They were the same in 1643 and presented problems for the Royalist cavalry who found it harder to attack the foot soldiers / pikemen of the Parliamentarians.

Next stop at Round Hill, Wash Common. It's worth getting off the bike and walking 40 yards onto the battle field via the public right of way. You'll get a good view of Donnington Castle where you and the Royalist Cavalry stood earlier. You'll see how Round Hill dominates the area, something the Royalists failed to appreciate as they looked over from Donnington. This meant the Parliamentarians gained a strong defensive position and the Royalists were forced to attack them.

Final stop is the Faulkland Memorial in Wash Common which commemorates the Royalist casualties only(!).

The battle was considered to be one of the 3 most important ones in the civil war. The Royalists who lost approx 1300 men failed to defeat the Parliamentarians ( who lost approx 1200 ). The Parliamentarian pikemen largely came from the London Trained Bands who were considered to have better training and discipline than other Parliamentarian brigades. This training enabled them to maintain formation with their pikes even when under the most terrifying Royalist cavalry charges. They became the template for the more professional Parliamentarian New Model Army that would go on to win the war.

20 Mile route (thanks to Rhian Salmon):

35 mile route (thanks to Rachael Elliott):

50 mile route (thanks to Mel Sneddon):

We look forward to seeing all your pictures!