Recently returned from a tour of Northants and the Battle of Naseby (June 14, 1645) in particular. Northants is a neglected county – people skirt it or dash through – but it contains incomparable architectural riches, churches varying from pale yellow in the south west to golden brown in the north east, and great houses like Althorpe, the home of the Spencers.
But Naseby was the draw and a largely unspoilt battlefield it is (apart from the scar of the A14 in the south). Hedges now proliferate where once there were none (except the famous SULBY HEDGES which played such an important part in the story of the battle) and so some interpretation is needed. There is a copse which wasn’t there in 1645. But the rest is as it was, and you can see the tactical importance of the ridges, and the reason why Prince Rupert’s charge on the right of the Royalist line veered too far to the right – the land drops down there, and horses and men in motion tend naturally to charge downhill.
Naseby has recently benefitted from stands and lookouts created by the British Battlefields Trust, and from battlefield archaeology. This latter shows clearly the places where Charles’s forces stood and fought rearguard actions, and that Rupert’s Bluecoat infantry – alone perhaps amongst the King’s men – stood defiantly at the end.
Naseby was the most important battle fought on British soil since, Hastings, and yet cars whizz by. Do not make the same mistake. Buy Martin Marix Evans short book on the battle and then drive round the various lookout posts, which will give you a fine overview of a great battle, a decisive battle that spelt the end for Charles, for the Divine Right of Kings, a battle that cemented the ascendancy of parliament forever (even after the Restoration), and the eventual execution of the monarch.