7 December 2011

A trip to Ripple Field

Old Nan's Hill, Ripple, where Waller and his men arrayed before the battle

A recent trip to the Forest of Dean afforded the opportunity to visit a number of Civil War landmarks.

Following Prince Maurice's stalking of Waller near to the Welsh border my trip took me through the villages of Little Dean and Highnam before arriving at the village of Ripple in Gloucestershire - the site of the Prince's  first telling blow against his nemesis ...

After crossing the Severn in April 1643 to prevent William Waller from reaching Gloucester, Prince Maurice finally managed to ambush him with around 2000 men at Littledean, only for Waller to break through and head on towards Gloucester. An altercation at Littledean Hall led to the Royalist commanders Colonel Congreve and Colonel Wigmore being slain in the dining room, and though the Hall is now in private hands it is reported that visitors can still see the men's bloodstains on the floor.

On the way to Ripple I also passed through Highnam, where a month prior to the Littledean skirmish, in March 1643, Lord Herbert's forces had been forced to surrender by the combined armies of Waller and Colonel Massie. Highnam Court was severely damaged in the attack and was re-built in 1658. The building has been restored to this model, though only the gardens are open to visitors.

Maurice and Waller finally came to face each other Ripple, a few miles north of Tewkesbury. The photo at the top of the article shows the long ridge know as Old Nan's Hill, facing north out of the back of the village. Waller commanded the hill with around 2000 men, mostly cavalry, with only one Company of foot.

Live Google map showing a better view of Old Nan's Hill and the plain of Ripple Field below. Hold the cursor over the map to pan around. View larger Map

Maurice had three divisions on the large field below the hill (pan right in the Google map or see image below). An intial attack by the Royalist cavalry was fought off, after which Waller with some of his horse to the village to the rear. Dragoons were sent out amongst the hedges to the edge of the field,where they encountered more advancing Royalist horse.

Ripple Field

A second wave of Maurice's horse outflanked Parliament's troops to the west of the hill. Seizing an opportunity to try and halt the Royalist advance Sir Arthur Hesilrig charged with his horse, only to be swiftly forced back and the rest of Waller's forces routed.

The Royalists chased the fleeing enemy back towards Tewkesbury, where they were met by Waller's musketeers. Waller took refuge in Gloucester, while Maurice was recalled to Oxford. Ripple Field scored an undoubted victory for the Prince, though the losses inflicted on Waller were not terminal.

Waller's campaign on the Welsh border had been checked, and though Ripple Field gave Maurice the first win for the King's forces over Waller and inflicted a psychological blow, the 'Night Owl' still managed to escape with the majority of his forces - and reputation - in tact.

He would not be as fortunate when they faced each other a few months later, at Roundway Down.

The lane leading back into Ripple village

1 comment:

  1. Hi can someone contact me as I have a Charles 1st Medal found near the Battle site . I need more info on the Medal.