Article and images by Jonathan White
The 45th annual ‘Battle of Nantwich & Winter Fayre’ took place in and around Nantwich town centre and on Mill Island on Saturday 26th January 2019.
The event was organised by the Holly Holy Day Society, a small group of unpaid volunteers who give up their time each year to organise and plan the event, working in association with The Sealed Knot re-enactment society.
Holly Holy Day traces its history back to the 17th century and the four-year-long English Civil War between the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and the Royalists (Cavaliers) loyal to Charles I.
This year is the 375th anniversary of the original battle, which took place on 25th January 1644.
A variety of activities took place during the day at St Mary’s Church, Acton; St Mary’s Church, Nantwich; Nantwich Bookshop & Coffee Lounge; Nantwich Museum, Pillory Street; and the town square, along with a parade and the battle re-enactment on Mill Island.
There was live entertainment at the RedShift Stage on the town square from Kevin Harrop, aged 10, accompanied by guitar tutor and vocalist Jonathan Tarplee; Nantwich Concert Band Quintet; The Funky Choir; and Nantwich Players.
Paul Boniface from RedShift community radio, events & networking was the compere with assistance from other RedShift members.
Nantwich Museum hosted a musketry demonstration by The Sealed Knot, Civil War exhibitions, 17th century music from Forlorne Hope and led Civil War tours.
Other highlights of the day included the Plough Witches, and Reaseheath College students selling holly sprigs.
There was a cavalry-led parade of several hundred Sealed Knot troops from Malbank School & Sixth Form College along Welsh Row into the town centre, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the war memorial on the town square – to commemorate people who died in the Battle of Nantwich and other battles – and an inspection of troops.
The troops then paraded to Mill Island to re-enact the 1644 battle.
During the battle drummers banged their orders, pikes clattered, cannons boomed, muskets exploded and swords clanged.
There was a running commentary with historical information and an insight into the techniques deployed on the battlefield.
Following the re-enactment, mayor of Nantwich Cllr David Marren presented the Rose Bowl to the ‘best regiment’ which this year was won by the Earl of Manchester’s Regiment of Foote.
St Mary’s Church in Acton near Nantwich had an English Civil War talk as well as a guided walk of the battlefields, and served refreshments with the opportunity to go up the Church’s Tower.
A representative from St Mary’s Church, Acton commented: “Dozens of people visited the church during Holly Holy Day and the events in place were a huge success.
“There was positive feedback from our Civil War talk and the Battlefield walk. Visitors also really enjoyed the refreshments and the trips up the Church Tower.
“The weather was kind and the atmosphere was great.”
Nantwich Bookshop & Coffee Lounge organised their sixth annual Holly Holy Day English Civil War book authors evening the day before the battle.
This ever-popular event took place at the Methodist Church in Hospital Street, Nantwich.
Authors were also present for book signings at Nantwich Bookshop & Coffee Lounge on the day of the battle.
Steve Lawson, of Nantwich Book Shop & Coffee Lounge, said: “Thank you to the authors for coming to Nantwich to talk about their books on the anniversary of the Battle of Nantwich.
“We are really excited to return to the Methodist Church for the Holly Holy Day author interviews.”
Holly Holy Day was enjoyed in dry weather by several thousand people.