A new short film from the University of Chester places the focus on a dark and often overlooked time in the city’s history – the Great Siege – and the reminders of the 17th century conflict hidden in plain sight.
Dr Sam Chadwick explores the fascinating subject in the video, and an accompanying blog, shared as part of the ‘Global History in One City’ series which demonstrates how Chester’s history is part of a dynamic worldwide story.
The Visiting Lecturer, from the University’s Department of History and Archaeology, offers new insights on the Great Siege of Chester which took place during the English Civil War. The War was fought between the Royalists, also known as the Cavaliers who supported King Charles I, and the Parliamentarians, derided as the Roundheads, and who opposed his rule.
Initially neutral, during the early stages of the Civil War, Chester and West Cheshire became Royalist, while East Cheshire fell into Parliamentarian hands.
In the film, Dr Chadwick explains how after a first siege quickly relieved by a Royalist Army, Chester came under a true siege, as the Parliamentarians established a series of garrisons around the city.
But while the new military technology should have outdone the older and less technologically advanced medieval defences, Chester held fast for much longer than expected.
He said: “While Chester was relieved and resupplied at times, it underwent siege from November 1644 through until its final surrender in February 1646.
“The last four months of this siege were particularly intense. Chester stood alone, relying on its outdated and hastily repaired medieval defences. Despite the supposed superiority of cutting edge ‘revolutionary’ gunpowder weaponry, Chester stood firm, only surrendering in the end due to starvation, rather than the destruction these pieces of artillery had wrought.”
He added that the seeds of the siege were planted nearly 200 years before, more than half a continent away, and today, reminders of the conflict remained, such as cannonball marks at Barnaby’s Tower; Prince Rupert’s trench and even in Chester pub names.
The Global History in One City series explores diverse topics on the city’s past, underlining Chester’s global significance. The films in the series to date are: The Forgotten Germans of the First World War; Chester’s Legacies of Empire; An International City: Chester in the Middle Ages; Viking Age Chester – A Node in Transnational Networks, and Deva Victrix – Roman Chester.
Further films to be released will include looking at witch hunting in Cheshire.
To read the blog, please go to: https://www1.chester.ac.uk/news/fortress-chester%E2%80%93the-great-siege-of-chester.