25 November 2011

Mystery leaflet claims threat to Nantwich battle site

The mystery leaflet ...

Guerrilla English Civil War enthusiast fights to save battlefield ...

Maybe. But who else might be behind the anonymous leaflet heralding the 'Second Battle of Nantwich', which recently fell through local residents' letterboxes? ...

The first Battle of Nantwich in January 1644 saw the forces of Sir John Byron defeated by Fairfax, Sir William Brereton and Sir George Booth, with around 1,500 of the Royalists captured (one of whom, George Monck, would one day play his defining role in the Restoration).

Byron's defeat marked a severe setback for the king in the north-west, who had planned to establish a larger northern army in the region using soldiers returning from Ireland.

At the time the town of Nantwich was little more than a village, though now boasts a population of more than 12,000. The leaflet expresses fears that Cheshire East Council, in seeking to identify areas for future housing, has already earmarked the greenfield site of the battle and calls on local residents to "stand up and fight to protect their town from unwanted development". The battle site is mentioned alongside potential threats wildlife habitats, and the possibility of increased traffic congestion and pressure on local facilities.

The anonymous leaflet features the mugshots of local politicians, and has prompted responses from a number of them. The Mayor has called for brownfield sites to be given first consideration in the planning process, while independent Cllr Arthur Moran has described the leaflet as "misleading".

Although Kingsley Fields, on which the battle site lies, appears on the council's Local Development Framework, a spokesman said that as it appears on the English Heritage Register of Historic Battlefields it was "unlikely that the council would permit any development which adversely affected (its) historical, archaeological or landscape value."

21st January 2012 will see the 40th modern re-enactment of the battle by the Holly Holy Society, a local group and charity dedicated to educational English Civil War re-enactments.


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