Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Phantoms of Edgehill

The Battle of Edgehill was the first battle fought during the English Civil War. Arriving at an impasse with the Parliamentarian government King Charles l declared war and led his soldiers against the Parliamentarian army.

Parliamentarian cavalry break
through lines of the Royalist army.
Illustration by Ron Embleton
The Kings troops were marching from Shrewsbury toward London when the Parliamentarian or Roundhead forces lead by the Earl of Essex intercepted them at Edgehill midway between Banbury and Warwick.

Over 30,000 troops clashed in this 3-hour battle on October 23, 1642. A thousand men were killed and neither side was able to declare victory. The dead bodies were looted for their clothes and money and the wounded were left to die where they lay.

Three months later these corpses were still strewn across this battlefield. Just before Christmas of 1642 a group of shepherds saw a strange sight. They watched, as the Battle of Edgehill was re-enacted in the sky above them.

They heard the cries of men as they died and horses’ screams. They also heard the clash of armor. They told the local priest what they had seen and heard. He told them that he had also seen these phantom fighting soldiers.

After this, there were so many reported sighting of this unusual battle by the Kineton villagers a pamphlet entitled, A Great Wonder in Heaven detailing these sightings was published in January of 1643.

News of this ghostly activity reached King Charles’ ears. He sent a Royal Commission to investigate. These men also witnessed this phantom battle. They even reported recognizing some of the deceased soldiers voices.

Fight for the standard.
One voice they recognized was that of the king’s standard bearer, Sir Edmund Verney. He had been captured during the battle and refused to give up the standard so the Roundheads cut off his hand in order to take it. When the Royalists recaptured this standard it is said that Verney’s hand was still attached to it.

The ghostly activity became so pronounced at Edgehill that the villagers decided they best give the fallen soldiers a Christian burial. When this was done the sightings appeared to stop.

However, even today people still report odd sounds and sights at Edgehill. Witnesses have heard the sounds of screams, battle cries, cannon fire, and the thunder of horses’ hooves. Apparitions are still seen.


It is stated these sights and sounds become more pronounced on the anniversary of this battle.
Monument at battlefield today.

No comments: