The English Civil War tore families and friends apart
Chinnor in the English Civil War
On 18 June 1643 during the English Civil War a Royalist force of 1,800 men led by Prince Rupert arrived from Oxford, overcame the Parliamentarian garrisons at Postcombe and Chinnor and took 120 men prisoner. Major Legge led the attack into Chinnor with the advanced guard. The Parliamentary troops in Chinnor back from the previous day from the 40-mile march to Islip and back exhausted, were asleep with inadequate guards posted. A pursuing Parliamentarian force intercepted them 7 miles (11 km) away near Chalgrove, but in the resulting Battle of Chalgrove Field the Royalists fought off their pursuers and returned with their prisoners to Oxford
The March to Chalgrove via Chinnor
Col John Urry, a recent turncoat, was at Prince Rupert's side as they watched Parliament's army march away to Thame. Urry reminded the Prince of the enemy's quartering and that the pay wagon was due into Thame the following morning. He highlighted that many of those who had viewed Islip were from Chinnor. Rupert ordered his men to be on Magdalen Bridge ready to march by 4 pm. Their objective was to march through the night and attack Essex's furthermost outpost, Chinnor.
Rupert's army of over 2,000 men marched out of Oxford heading to Chiselhampton Bridge. It consisted of 500 musketeers, 500 dragoons and 1,000 cavalry comprising of three crack regiments and the Prince's Lifeguard.
Refreshed after resting until night fall at Chiselhampton they set off into the night passing through the quiet lanes. At Tetsworth sentries fired at them as they passed. At Postcombe Col. Morley's troop fled leaving a few sleepers in the barns to be captured with their arms and a Standard.
By 5am the royalists had surrounded Chinnor. The new levies, back from Islip, who had not long before found their beds, were caught naked in their quarters. Some brave soldiers fired their muskets from the windows, but were killed as they ran from the blazing thatch buildings that had been torched.
Rupert set off back down the Icknield Way laden with booty, 120 prisoners and 50 dead littering streets amongst the flames that was Chinnor.
John Hampden a notable parliamentarian and known as 'The Man of the People' was educated at Lord William School in Thame. He lost his life at the Battle of Chalgrove Field.
Further information on John Hampden's career and life can be found on the John Hampden Society website
Raid on Chinnor 1643
Letter to the Speaker of the Houses of Parliament from the Earl of Essex
Full account of the Battle of Chalgrove Field 1643
The Civil War and Chinnor extracts from ‘To Right the Wrong’ by Edna Lyall. First printed 1893 (part 1) extract from ‘Fairleigh Hall’ a novel by Charlotte Young (part 2)