Chester is preparing for the arrival of thousands of 17th century soldiers for the UK’s biggest battle re-enactment of the year during a free three day event on August 29, 30 and 31.
On August Bank Holiday weekend, 2,000 Royalist and Parliamentary troops will re-enact the historic battle of Rowton Moor, which saw Charles I fail in his attempt to lift the siege of Chester.
A huge historical encampment will also be set up to include around 4,000 people made up of members of the Sealed Knot, their families, friends and supporters.
On Saturday, August 29, the Lord Mayor of Chester Hugo Deynem will unveil a plaque in the Roman Gardens in honour of victims of the Great Siege of 1645-6, watched by dozens of Sealed Knot members who will then attend a 17th Century wedding in front of the Town Hall.
Then on the afternoons of August 30 and 31 at Chester Racecourse, the Sealed Knot will re-enact Rowton Moor, next to a large historical encampment.
Supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council, Chester Racecourse and Marketing Cheshire, the event is expected to attract combatants and spectators from all over the UK and Europe.
Fought on September 24, 1645, the battle was intended to relieve the siege of Chester, the last port under Royalist control but Charles - watching from the Phoenix Tower on the City Walls - saw his Cavaliers soundly beaten.
Charles then fled, ordering the city’s already starving and weary citizens to hold out for another 10 days. They managed five horrendous months before the walled city fell to Parliament.
Regiments marching on Chester from all over the UK will include men and women from all walks of life – including some whose ancestors served King or Cromwell in the same 17th century military units.
And among the converging infantry, artillery and cavalry will be regiments from Scotland and Ireland and mercenaries from the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Cllr Deynem said: “The Civil War is an important chapter in the history of our great city and it is fitting that a plaque will be unveiled to mark what must have been a bloody and terrifying episode with starvation never far away.
“The Bank Holiday weekend will be a step back in time to 1645 for Chester’s thousands of residents and visitors, as they witness the largest re-enacted Civil War battle here in the UK this year, staged by the Sealed Knot’s 4,000 members and fellow enthusiasts from across Europe.
“There will literally be something for everyone as the pages of history are brought to life. Please join me and witness 1645 in action.”
Michael Molcher from The Sealed Knot said: “The excitement is building for our event of the year in Chester and we’re looking forward to welcoming re-enactors from across the UK and Europe to this wonderful city. The city has such a rich and important Civil War history, and we want to bring that alive.
“Whether it’s witnessing the battles on Sunday and Monday, seeing soldiers march through the city, visiting our mass encampment or watching one of the dramas unfolding on Saturday, Chester is the place to be this August Bank Holiday weekend.”
On Saturday at noon, members of the Sealed Knot will march to the Town Hall where they are welcomed by the Lord Mayor. Together they walk to the Roman Gardens, where a plaque will be unveiled.
From 1-4pm, scenes from The Great Siege and of 17th century life will be played out at The Cross, on Eastgate Street, and in front of Chester Town Hall. These will include a recruitment drive by the city’s garrison and a 17th century wedding.
On Sunday and Monday, a huge historical encampment will be open from 11am-4pm on Chester Racecourse, giving people the chance to step back in time and see how life was lived in the 17th century.
Then at 2.30pm on Sunday and 2pm on Monday, the Parliamentarian and Royalist armies will take to Chester Racecourse to battle it out and decide Chester’s fate.