Yesterday, Sunday the 25th of January, I attended the English Civil War Society’s King’s Army Parade on the Mall in London. This is an annual commemorative event to mark the execution of King Charles I (whom some refer to as the Martyr-King) in 1648/9. It was on the very cold morning on the 30th of January 1648 (Old Style Calendar)/1649 (New Style Calendar) that the king made his last walk from St. James’s Palace to Whitehall Palace, where he was beheaded outside the Banqueting House (which, since the disastrous fire in 1698, is the only portion of Whitehall Palace that remains).
About ten in the Morning the King was brought from St. James’s, walking on foot through the Park, with a Regiment of Foot, part before and part behind him, with Colours flying, Drums beating, his private Guard of Partizans with some of his Gentlemen before and some behind bareheaded, D. J U X O N next behind him and Col. Thomlinson (who had the charge of him) talking with the King bareheaded from the Park, up the stairs into the Gallery, and so into the Cabinet-Chamber where he used to lie, where he continued at his Devotion, refusing to dine, (having before taken the Sacrament) only about an hour before he came forth, he drank a glass of Claret wine, and eat a piece of bread about twelve at noon.
From thence he was accompanied by Dr. Juxon, Col. Thomlinson and other officers formerly appointed to attend him and the private guard of partizans, with musketeers on each side, through the Banqueting house adjoining to which the scaffold was erected between Whitehall Gate and the Gate leading into the gallery from St. James’s: The Scaffold was hung round with black and the floor covered with black and the Ax and Block laid in the middle of the Scaffold. There were divers companies of Foot, and Troops of Horse placed on the one side of the Scaffold towards Kings-Street and on the other side towards Charing Cross, and the multitudes of people that came to be Spectators, very great.
You can read more including the king’s last speech here.
All those participating in the event are volunteers who take part in reenactments during their spare time. These people are extraordinary – they meticulously try to be as historically accurate as possible with the clothing, paraphernalia, and some even wore spectacles designed to look like those from that time! It’s a wonderful hobby that is not only entertaining, but thoroughly informative and unquestionably helps bring history to life. There were men, women, and children dressed in 1640s clothing and several riders atop beautiful, majestic horses. With the grandeur of Buckingham Palace in the background and the many reenactors marching down the Mall, it was truly a wondrous sight.
There were several different “regiments” in the King’s Army (meaning supporters of King Charles I) and these were as follows (do correct me if I am wrong):
|Sir Thomas Blackwell
|Sir Richard Grenvile (Horse)
|Lord Ralph Hopton
|Sir Thomas Lunsford
|Sir William Pennyman
|Sir Marmaduke Rawdon
|Sir Thomas Tyldesley
|Marquess of Winchester
I saw and chatted to one of my Twitter friends, @LordOfPies, who is in Sir William Pennyman’s Regiment and who is featured in at least two of the photos in the gallery below. You’ll see that each regiment looks different and some held muskets, pikes, or swords, whilst a few pushed along small cannons!
From the Mall, the parade marched to Horse Guards, wherein they assembled along the perimeter and began a service in honour of King Charles I. A quite moving speech was given and at one point I had chills – and not just because of the weather – I was surprised at how much it moved me.
(If you are in one of the photos below and wish to be removed from the website, please let me know and I will do so right away!)
What I learned:
The Good: It was wonderful to see all of these men and women – who have such a passion and respect for Britain’s history – attired in historically accurate clothing and marching.
The Bad: It was cold. But as we’re in January, that’s to be expected.
The Ugly: journalists (from a certain major news outlet) who covered the event were unpleasant and I overheard them making some disparaging comments, which I thought most unfortunate. There were many pushy photographers, so I (naturally not inclined towards aggression) had no choice but to fall back behind them (so forgive the lack of steady shots). Also, there were lots of tourists – which is great – but sadly, many of them were giggling, talking loudly during the moment of silence, and taking selfies – not at all understanding that it was a sombre event. I had a similar surge of disgust when I went to visit the moving poppy display at the Tower and found loads of laughing, smiling, selfie-snapping tourists. Both times I witnessed narcissistic behaviour that was utterly disrespectful of this nation’s history.
In spite of the above, the event was wonderful to behold and I am very pleased that I was able to attend. There will be services held throughout the country on the 30th of January, the day of King Charles I’s execution.
For more information, please visit The English Civil War Society.