On the way back from Coventry the other weekend, we passed over a bridge…
It’s one that looks like pretty much like any other nondescript road bridge in the country, and I doubt most people even register it as they drive across, let alone realise that this marks the site of a very noteworthy event in English history – the Battle of Cropredy Bridge.
The battle, part of the English Civil War fought on the 29th June 1644, was between the Parliamentarian Forces under the command of Sir William Waller and the Royalist Army under the direct command of King Charles I.
Following a series of maneuvers and feints, the Royalist army, moving North up the eastern side of the River Cherwell, was being shadowed by Sir Waller’s forces on the opposite bank less than a mile behind.
In a bid to out-maneuver and split up the Royalist rearguard, Waller attempted to cross his army over the river at a series of points, Cropredy bridge being one of them. Three separate and rather bloody battles followed, the outcome of which saw the Parliamentarians hold on to the bridges, but suffer heavy losses of 700 men, many of who had become demoralised and decided to desert.
After the following stalemate the king and his Royalists, who had only suffered light casualties but were low on supplies, escaped to the west under the cover of darkness, and later went on to win the battle of Lostwithiel a short time later.
We in the Ratmobile didn’t know any of this of course, until we spotted a little information board on the side of the road, and stopped to see what it was.
We were glad we did.
So if you ever see one of these on the side of the road, take a moment and investigate. You never know what history you may discover, even about the most humble of bridges…