Background to Civil War Activity.
Great Chalfield Manor was the property of the prominent Royalist Sir Richard Gurney, Lord Mayor of London. He had bought a mortgage on it in 1631 as an investment subject to Anne, widow of Sir William Eyre, living there for the rest of her life. During the Civil War the manor was occupied by a Parliamentary garrison, as an offshoot from Malmesbury, for most of the period between August 1644 and September 1646. The garrison numbered some 260 men and around 120 horses, the infantry being mainly from Devereux’s Regiment. On the 2nd or 3rd of September 1644, the Parliamentary garrison quit the house due the near approach of a strong force of Royalist horse and foot from Bath and Bristol. The Royalists occupied the manor for two days before retiring when the Parliamentarian Colonel Edward Massey approached with a body of horse and foot. Massey then left 100 cavalry to hold the manor. Great Chalfield is unique in that a full set of accounts still exist for the period of the Parliamentary garrison, which are often used to provide evidence of the cost of goods, the pay of soldiers and the type of paid activities undertaken by the troops and civilians in a garrison of this period. They also show the contributions and sequestration money levied by the garrison on behalf of Parliament from the surrounding towns and locality.
The manor was restored by Robert Fuller 1904-1912. He gave it to the National Trust in 1943 and his grandson’s family manage it for the National Trust. The manor is open for guided tours from April until late October. Evensong will be celebrated in the Parish Church at 6:00 pm on 6 August.
Re-enactment in 2017.
The Marquess of Winchester’s Regiment will re-enact the two-day Royalist occupation of the manor in 1644. The Regiment and accompanying civilians will march in at the start of each day and guards and sentries will be posted to keep watch. The regiment will exercise drill and firing of muskets and cannon during the day, while the small Living History will be based in tents in the garden. A clerk will be set up in the Great Hall to replicate the writing of the accounts. The Chaplain and officers will also recreate various activities in the adjoining parish church and in and around the manor to supplement the tours. During the afternoon a small Parliamentarian patrol will be driven off in a sharp skirmish in the Orchard to the rear of the manor. Any prisoners taken will be tried and then marched off under escort.
For more informatormation about the venue please vist their website – Great Chalfield Manor