Three hundred and seventy years after the last musket shot was fired, the siege of Marlborough during the Civil War will be commemorated ina wreath laying ceremony.
On December 5 at 10am mayor Edwina Fogg will lay a wreath at the plaque on the wall of the Castle & Ball hotel.
She will be accompanied by the Officers of the Dignity, and beadle John Yates will read an account of the siege.
The outbreak of civil war in 1642 saw the majority of the town on Parliament’s side, although the Seymours held the castle for the King.
Because of its radical reputation, its strategic significance on the road West, and its proximity to Oxford, which King Charles had made his base, Marlborough was one of the first towns to be attacked.
On November 24, Lord Digby led four hundred cavalry troops to the town, where he demanded surrender. He was rebuffed, and returned on December 5 with an army of 4,000 men.
His attack was resisted by a small force of professional soldiers and a much larger number of local people, Colonel James Ramsey and John Francklyn, one of the town’s two MPs – Sir Francis Seymour was the other.
After a three-day siege the Royalists overran earthworks on the Common and then stormed the town through the alleyways leading to High Street, shouting, “A town, a town for King Charles!”
Even as the Royalist troops entered High Street the townsfolk continued to put up a fight, firing muskets from windows.
Looting and pillaging followed, with 53 houses and seven barns put to the torch. Royalist troops rounded up 120 prisoners – including the MP and the mayor – who were marched to Oxford prison, where the MP John Franklyn later died.
Although the town was lost, Oliver Cromwell never forgot the loyalty of the people of Marlborough.
When much of the town was destroyed by a Great Fire in 1653, Cromwell levied a national subscription – to which every parish in the land contributed – to rebuild the town.
The blue plaque that commemorates the seige of Marlborough was erected in 1995.