by Jessie Childs
An immersive and electrifying account of a defining episode in the English Civil War that illuminates the human experience—and human cost—of this devastating war.
It was a time of puritans and populism, witch hunts and civil war.
Between 1643 and 1645, Basing House in Hampshire, England, was besieged three times. To the parliamentary Roundheads, the house symbolized everything that was wrong with England: it was the largest private residence in the country, a bastion of royalism and excess. Its owner, the Marquess of Winchester, reportedly had the motto Love loyalty etched into the windows. Winchester refused all terms of surrender. When he discovered his brother plotting to betray the house, he forced him to hang his accomplices. When the garrison divided along religious lines, Winchester expelled all the Protestants.
As royalist strongholds crumbled around the country, the Winchesters—and Basing House—stood firm. The famed architect Inigo Jones designed fortifications; gamekeepers became snipers; and the women hurled bricks at the besiegers. ‘Loyalty House’, as it was known, became the king’s principal garrison. But the drum of the parliamentary army beat ever louder—and closer—and in October 1645, Oliver Cromwell rolled in the heavy guns.
The Siege of Loyalty House tells the story of these dramatic events, not only recounting the sallies and skirmishes, but the experiences of the men, women, and children caught in the crossfire. What was it like to be under siege, lying in bed with shells crashing through the window? What was it like to conduct a siege, sleeping on frosty fields, receiving news of sick children at home from desperate wives?
Ultimately, the story of Basing House is the story of England in the 1640s: a tale of brother against brother, of women on the frontline, of radicalism, iconoclasm, and fanaticism. It is a tale of destruction and derring-do, courage and cowardice, and a house on fire—the true end of an era.
Interview with the Author
History Hack: The Siege of Loyalty House
8/3/22 49 min
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The English Civil War: Loyalty House
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