Civil War brought to Life for All in Hampshire Countryside
Over the last four years, people living in and around Cheriton just north of Winchester have become used to seeing bands of soldiers descending on the area. Since the Battle of Cheriton Project was set up four years ago, re-enactors from the Sealed Knot Civil War Society have regularly fought at and celebrated the history of this special battlefield. This Saturday 29th March – the 364th anniversary of the battle - sees more troops arriving with a very special mission in mind. The day marks the completion of the last in series of initiatives designed the share the history of Cheriton Battlefield with those who live in or visit the area.
Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a set of imaginative interpretation panels has been commissioned to tell the story of the battlefield and lead people on a circular tour around the site. The battlefield is interesting because it has remained largely unchanged over the years thanks to sympathetic farming practices, making it easy for visitors to imagine the bloody scenes of 1644. The mission to tell its story and increase understanding of Cheriton’s critical role in the Civil War has been close to the hearts of the Battle of Cheriton Project team since local farmer Gillian Gray Knight was first approached by Richard Pearce of the Sealed Knot in 2003. Over fifteen thousand men fought out one of the fiercest battles of the war across the rolling hills and valleys outside Alresford. The clash between the forces of Sir William Waller and Sir Ralph Hopton led to a royalist defeat and halted the progress of King Charles I in his advance on London. Members of the Sealed Knot will be conjuring up memories of these events during the day on Saturday 29th March.
Gillian Gray Knight said: "The Directors of the Battle of Cheriton Project are delighted to have completed the interpretation panel and walk element of the current plans. But we won’t be resting on our laurels. Our next step is to complete development of our interactive website, aiming to provide both schools and the general public with an interesting and useful source of information and acitivities."
Winchester City Council’s museums service has played its part by developing a leaflet to accompany the circular tour, and providing the designs for the new text panels. Interpretation specialists Imagemakers from Devon have produced sculpted plinths and a bench designed to evoke the Civil War costumes and canon.
To thank supporters and funders, a special day of commemorations is being held for invited guests. This includes an unveiling ceremony, a special service and a staged battle by members of the Sealed Knot.
The £46,000 grant was the largest given by the Heritage Lottery Fund to a private organisation in 2005, and has also helped to pay for a full scale battle re-enactment enjoyed by thousands of spectators in 2005 and a programme of educational visits and web resources.
The battlefield walk is free and follows established footpaths. For a free trail leaflet, contact Winchester Tourist Information Centre on 01962 840 500 or email email@example.com