This is an extract from the programme written by Harry Mottram for the Axbridge Pageant due we hope in 2021. It was originally due to be performed this August but has been put back 12 months due to Covid-19 with even a question mark over that date due to the ongoing problems of social distancing. The pageant is directed by John Bailey.
Breaking 17th century news: “By Royal Proclamation I King Charles this day of 1642 who by the grace of God, King of ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, FRANCE and IRELAND, Defender of the Faith, beseech support from my loving Subjects to rally to our Godly cause and defeat those most rebellious and diverse lords and Members of the Commons and their treasonous leader Cromwel.”
Yes – Civil War had broken out and Axbridge did its best to stay out of the fighting. Except for a punch up outside King John’s Hunting Lodge and the visit of Queen Henrietta Maria.
It was a Royal charm offensive – with one motive being to raise cash for her husband’s collapsing military campaign. So which side did Axbridge take? It seems they put an each way bet on the outcome giving money to both sides.
The bells of St John’s Church were rung out for her as her party made their way through the town. Not everyone greeted her with good grace. For many she was on the wrong side of history as the Queen who wanted to take England back to the days of the divine right of kings and the Roman Catholic church while for others she was the wife of the legitimate head of state and deserved respect.
Chronicled at the time was a visit by the Cavaliers from their camp at Brent Knoll to recruit young men into their ranks.
An argument broke out between them by King John’s Hunting Lodge and a fight took place with the Cavaliers beating a retreat back up the High Street.
The Civil Wars continued in Ireland and later after the Restoration and the return of the King more trouble was to follow as the men of Axbridge decided to join a rebellion led by the Duke of Monmouth.
The pageant with a cast of 300 is now scheduled to take place from Saturday to Monday August 28-30th, 2021 – having been put back a year due to Covid-19. Please note due to the ongoing pandemic the date may have to be altered again.
For more details of the pageant visit http://axbridgepageant.com/index.html and
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For more from the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk