White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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The Craven Arms at Enborne - © Nash Ford PublishingEnborne
Battle Parish

The First Battle of Newbury took place within the parish (See also Wash Common). Most of the fighting of the battle occurred around Round Hill near Skinners Green (but see also Wash Common). The Royalists had failed to secure the Hill while trying to stop the Earl of Essex reaching London after the Siege of Gloucester. It was between here and Dark Lane that the celebrated Viscount Falkland (of memorial fame) received his mortal wounds. He was the King’s Secretary of State, not a soldier, but joined Byron’s men on the assault on Round Hill. The attack was halted by various hedges that the Royalists found impassable under a small gap was discovered. Falkland immediately rode through and was met by a volley of musket fire. Some say he committed suicide because he could not bear to see Englishman killing Englishman. Prince Rupert is said to have stayed at (the now lost) Cope Hall, just below Round Hill, and the lane outside was said to have been heaped high with dead bodies. Ghostly sounds of the battle have been heard nearby in recent years. Not far away are cottages, still known as the Hospital, where King Charles visited the wounded when the battle was done. The Earl of Essex’ Parliamentary reserve, under Robartes, was stationed near Enborne village, and many of the dead were buried in the local churchyard. Crockham Heath was crawling with parliamentary troops as the Earl of Essex stationed his artillery and the main body of his men here. Prince Rupert attacked them between here and Hill Farm. Some of the fiercest fighting took place just north of Enborne Row, on the edge of Wash Common. The parliamentary leader, the Earl of Essex spent the night before the battle at Biggs Cottage. It is still haunted by his ghost. His right wing of men were stationed, under Skippon, below Biggs Hill. There is an old story told that, during the battle, a group of the parliamentary infantry managed to get hold of a large pig which they roasted on a spit in Lusky Gully behind Enborne Lodge. Just as the animal was done, a Royalist cannon ball came hurtling their way, shot straight into the pig and flew off with it! There is a recorded string of people through whom this tale is known to have passed, so it could well be true.

There is a curious legal custom from Enborne parish (which also prevailed in Chaddleworth). If a copyholder’s widow remained, she forfeited her rights to her husband’s lands. However, if she rode into court backwards on the back of a large black ram, the manor steward would be obliged to return her lands when she repeated the following lines:

Here I am, riding upon a blck ram,
Like a whore as I am;
And, for my Crincum Crancum,
Have lost my Bincum Bancum;
And, for my tail’s game,
Have done this worldly shame.
Therefore, I pray you, Mr. Steward,
Let me have my land again.


    © Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.