Gainsborough Anniversaries and The World Stage

The Gainsborough Heritage Centre and the English Civil War Society is commemorating the 375 anniversary of the Battle of Gainsborough. The new fantastic temporary exhibition will open on Saturday 28 July exactly 375 years since the very battle took place. The exhibition will commemorate the Battle of Gainsborough in 1643.

At the start of the Civil War Gainsborough was a small market town home to a population of about 1,800 people. Gainsborough was an important town due to its small inland port where industry flourished and this caused the town to be thrown into the midst of the Civil War. Gainsborough was a good crossing point with the Trent and whoever controlled the town could control traffic on the river. Newark also a market town with a flourishing port was, however, a royalist stronghold. On 20 July 1643, Lord Willoughby captured Gainsborough in Lincolnshire for Parliament. Therefore, this disrupted the Earl of Newcastle’s communications with Newark. It also blocked the Royalist advance from Yorkshire that was expected after Newcastle’s victory at Adwalton Moor.

The story continues as Parliament’s Committee of Safety ordered Sir John Meldrum and Colonel Oliver Cromwell to reinforce Lord Willoughby. Their position at Gainsborough was threatened by a detachment of Royalist cavalry commanded by Sir Charles Cavendish. Meldrum and Cromwell joined forces with a body of local troops from Lincolnshire at North Scarle on 27 July then hurried on to Gainsborough. The combined Parliamentarian force comprised 20 troops of horse and four companies of dragoons.

The exhibition details the story of the Parliamentarians who encountered Cavendish’s advance guard of dragoons on the morning of 28 July 1643 a few miles to the south of Gainsborough. The main body of Royalists was positioned at the top of a steep hill with three regiments of horses in front and Cavendish’s regiment in reserve at the rear. A Parliamentarian advance drove back the Royalist dragoons. The Parliamentarians pushed on and succeeded in gaining the high ground, routing the main body of the Royalists in a furious cavalry charge. While most of the Parliamentarians chased the fleeing Royalists, Colonel Cromwell realised that Cavendish had kept his own regiment in reserve and was preparing to counterattack the undefended Parliamentarian rear. Rallying his troops, Cromwell allowed Cavendish’s force to ride past, then turned the tables by leading a charge against the Royalist rear. The Royalists were driven down the hill and routed. Cavendish himself was killed.

Sir Charles Cavendish pictured below (1620 – 1643):

Sir Charles Cavendish was 23 years of age and the second son of the Earl of Devonshire, owner of Chatsworth and other estates in Derbyshire. The area where Cavendish was killed became known as Cavendish bog. This has since been the area where Spiller’s Flour Mill and Paul’s Maltsters were based. It is now home to Kerry’s Mill on Carr Lane off Lea Road. There is also a road that is named after Sir Charles called Cavendish Drive off Lea Road. However, the skirmish and death at Cavendish bog as it was known has always been debateable as to whether this was the area Cavendish was killed. Due to evidence that the distance the Cavendish regiment would have had to travel was too far as they were driven headlong down the hill. The hill is known today as Foxby Hill and they were supposedly driven into a marshy area known as Humble Carr to the south of the town.

Visit the Centre’s exhibition to explore the other aspects and stories of the battle. The exhibition includes social objects, memorabilia, costumes, battle armor and much more. Items are loaned from the English Civil War Society.

The Centre is open every Tuesday 10am until 4pm, Saturday 10am until 4pm and Sunday 11am until 4pm. Last admission is at 3.30pm. Admission charges are £3 for non-members of the Association, free entry for members and children under 16 years. For further details about the Heritage Centre’s feature exhibition, please email [email protected] or call 01427 610526.


BCW Project: Civil War in Lincolnshire 1643. Find out more here.

News Update:

The Gainsborough and District Heritage Association was created in 1994 and is a registered charity (no.1077538) and celebrated its 21st Anniversary in 2015. The Gainsborough Heritage Centre situated on the corner of North Street and Spital Terrace works to preserve the history of Gainsborough as well as the surrounding villages. (The Old Post Office, North Street, Gainsborough, DN21 2HS). The Centre is volunteer-led and encourages people to research and gain a further understanding of the history of Gainsborough. Fundraising is essential for the Centre in order to maintain the up-keep of the building and the facilities available to the public such as the archives, exhibition spaces and research library. A £25,000 grant from WREN was awarded to the Centre in 2016 to create the ground and first floor into permanent exhibition rooms. The Archive Officers and the team of volunteers continue to work on a number of projects organising the storage of archival materials that have been donated to the Centre by the general public. Projects include cataloguing and digitising, as well as collecting oral histories and continuing to update the permanent exhibition spaces. The volunteers at the Gainsborough Heritage Centre work very hard to preserve, maintain and fundraise to keep a heritage museum in Gainsborough open.

The Heritage Centre outcomes are:
• To preserve the history of Gainsborough.
• To get more local people engaged in their community.
• To maintain the building and organise archival storage and accessibility.

The Heritage Centre outputs are:
• An events programme of temporary exhibitions
Permanent exhibitions
Research facilities
• Photographic archive
Local events and talks
Local history books, DVDs and CDs created for purchase
• Newsletter for Members
Oral history project and archive
Exchange Tea Room


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