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Historic England Research Records

Battle Of Worcester 1651

Hob Uid: 116185
Location :
Worcestershire
Wychavon, Worcester, Malvern Hills
Powick, St. Peter the Great County, Whittington
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SO8580054200
Summary : In the summer of 1651, Charles II and David Leslie marched south towards London. Closely shadowed by Cromwell with a massive force of 30,000 men, they decided to take refuge in Worcester. The King's supporters numbered just 12,000. Having destroyed the bridges over the River Severn to the north and south of Worcester, King Charles hoped to channel Cromwell into a costly frontal attack on Worcester's strong eastern fortifications. However, Cromwell hit on the plan of dropping pontoon bridges in the very face of the enemy. This enabled part of his force, under Lieutenant-General Charles Fleetwood, to launch an unexpected attack from the south west. Fleetwood was, however, stalled by the fierce resistance of the Royalist and Highland troops west of the Severn. Cromwell then led three brigades across the pontoon bridge; thus weakening his right flank in order to strengthen his left. This movement was observed by the King who rallied what forces he could to launch an attack. By the time Cromwell had rushed back, his right flank was on the brink of defeat. For the next three hours the Parliamentarians battled to win back lost ground and the King's forces were gradually edged back. As Cromwell's general advance came on, the King's lines finally disintegrated back towards the city's Sidbury Gate. Meanwhile on the Parliamentarian left flank, Fleetwood's attack had begun to gain momentum, forcing more of the Royalist troops back into Worcester. With darkness falling, the battle became a vicious street-fight with the Royalists battling desperately for avenues of escape. With all hope of victory gone, the King was finally persuaded to flee. Although the final death-toll is hard to estimate, it is clear that the Royalist army had virtually ceased to exist. Appropriately the last battle of the Civil Wars had taken place where the first war began. The site of the battle is a Registered Battlefield.
More information : SO 85805432. Site of (NAT) Battle of Worcester (NR)
AD 1651. (1)

In August 1651, Charles II lead a Scottish army into England
reaching Worcester on August the 22nd. The town defences were
repaired and a hillock just outside the east wall fortified and
named Fort Royal (SO 85 SE 8).

Apart from these garrisons, the main army was in the suburb of
St John's, on the west bank of the Severn, across the sole
remaining bridge. The Severn bridges to the north and south had
been destroyed, also the Teme bridges.

The Parliamentarians, under Cromwell, occupied Evesham, and a
small force under Lambert secured the Severn bridge at Upton.

As a frontal attack on Worcester might prove very expensive, it
was decided to construct pontoon bridges, using twenty boats,
to bridge both the Severn and the Teme, just to the north and
east of their junction .

On September the 3rd, Fleetwood with 11000 men crossed the Severn
at Upton, advanced along the west bank to the Teme and placed the
bridges in position. Part of his force then crossed the Teme by
the pontoon, the remainder using a ford about a mile above Powick.
Cromwell led a further force across the other pontoon from the
east bank of the Severn.

The Royalist troops were steadily driven back into the suburbs
of St John's. At this moment Charles made a counter attack, with
every available man, and sallied out through the east gate of
Worcester to attack the main body of the Parliament troops, still
on the east bank of the Severn. Cromwell immediately called
off his troops leaving Fleetwood to finish the work on the west
bank, recrossed the river, and drove the Scots back into the city.

During the night the Scottish cavalry fled and the infantry were
either killed or captured.

It is not possible to locate the exact spots where the evening
struggle took place, beyond saying that it was on the slopes of
Perry Wood and Red Hill, now built up suburbs. The location of
the two pontoons is precisely defined by Cromwell's statement
that they were 'within pistol shot' of one another. The main
fighting in the meadows on the west bank took place over
featureless ground. (Clearly, the decisive encounter took place
astride the London Road at SO 858542, between Fort Royal and Red
Hill: see plan). (2)

Registered Battlefield. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England (3 & 8)

Battlefield report (6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 6" 1955
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Source Number : 2
Source : The battlefields of England
Source details :
Page(s) : 257-70
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Source Number : 3
Source : Register of historic battlefields
Source details : Battle of Worcester 1651 with Powick Bridge 1642. Districts of Malvern Hills, Worcester and Wychavon. 06-JUN-1995
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 4
Source : British battles : the front lines of history in colour photographs
Source details :
Page(s) : 170-171
Figs. :
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Source Number : 5
Source : The Ordnance Survey complete guide to the battlefields of Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 174-177
Figs. :
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Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage. 1995. Battlefield Report: Worcester 1651. (https://content.HistoricEngland.org.uk/content/docs/battlefields/worcester.pdf)
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Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Bund JWW. 1905. The Civil War in Worcestershire 1642-46 and the Scottish Invasion of 1651
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 8
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2015. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1000042 > [Accessed 11-FEB-2015]
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : 3 September 1651
Monument End Date : 1651
Monument Start Date : 1651
Monument Type : Battlefield
Evidence : Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1000042
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 85 SE 35
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1041382
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 116236
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, 30 HAMILTON ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31