Holly Holy Day, which celebrates the lifting of the 1643/44 siege through the Battle of Nantwich on 25 January 1644, was commemorated in the town on 28 January. It was a busy day for the museum, and we welcomed over 600 visitors. They were able to take advantage of tours of the town, learn about muskets from members of the Sealed Knot and enjoy music from the time provided by local group Forlorne Hope.
As well as learning about the Civil War from the permanent display a temporary exhibition explained the events leading to the battle whilst the recently constructed large scale model of the battlefield was also on display together with a matchlock musket loaned by the Grosvenor Museum in Chester. The display was arranged by the museum’s Civil War Centre which is now offering later in the year an evening class led by Chairman, Dr Keith Lawrence and will be ideal for those wishing to learn more about the seventeenth century conflict.
The volunteer team did sterling work welcoming visitors and helping with their queries. Particular mention should be made of Barbara and Janet (pictured) who dressed for the occasion and braved the elements standing outside to invite visitors to join us.
The Road to the Battle of Nantwich exhibition, which examines the English Civil War and its commemoration, is at the museum until 25th February 2017.
There is a display in Nantwich Museum’s main gallery about the Battle of Nantwich includes the letter from Sir Thomas Fairfax, the leader of more than 2,500 Parliamentarian soldiers, to General Monroe after the battle telling what he had done with some prisoners.
Parliamentarians in the English Civil War and endured a six-week siege by the Royalist forces.
After the siege was lifted, in January 1644, the local people marked the event in subsequent years by wearing sprigs of holly in their hats or on their clothing.
Holly Holy Day
Musketry demonstration led by members of the Sealed Knot
The annual commemoration on January 25 became known as Holly Holy Day. The practice faded out after a time, but was revived in 1972 following the introduction of a wreath-laying ceremony to mark those who died in the battle and the siege. It followed an initiative by the late Percy Corry, a local historian. Now, on the Saturday nearest to January 25th, wreaths are laid in memory of those who died and the battle is re-enacted by the Sealed Knot Society on Mill Island. The first re-enactment of the battle took place in 1973 on Barony Park but is now held on Mill Island in the centre of Nantwich.
The commemoration is organised by the town’s Holly Holy Day Society. The committee members include the Museum’s Community Development Manager, Kate Dobson.
Every year the Museum takes part in the town’s commemoration of the battle and was pleased to welcome members of the Sealed Knot and John Dixon from Black Wolf Wargaming to the Museum at this year’s event.