Heritage: Romford’s role during the Civil War

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 November 2017

The Market Place, Romford. The Royalists probably formed up here in 1648. Picture: Archant archive

The Market Place, Romford. The Royalists probably formed up here in 1648. Picture: Archant archive


Havering supported the Roundheads against Charles I, says Prof Ged Martin

The main battles in the English Civil War, between 1642 and 1646, took place far from Essex. The county supported Parliament against King Charles the First.

But, in May 1648, Royalists staged uprisings around the country. In Kent, they were hammered by the ruthless Parliamentary general, Sir Thomas Fairfax.

The remnant of the Kentish rebels, no more than 500 men, crossed the Thames and occupied Stratford. They were in poor shape, “almost ready to fall down in the Street for Want of Food”.

Across the river Lea, Parliamentary troops – militia from London – prepared to attack them.

Tired of Parliament, and its expensive Army, opinion in Essex had switched to support the King.

The Royalist general, the Earl of Norwich, dashed to Chelmsford (despite “his great age” – he was 63), where an enthusiastic Royalist, Sir Charles Lucas, persuaded Essex men to fight.

On Wednesday, June 3, 1648, General Lord Norwich sent orders to his men at Stratford to march towards Chelmsford.

“On Wednesday Night, we met the General at Rumford,” a Royalist veteran recalled. The eleven-mile march had been harassed by the Parliamentary troops. The Royalists had probably moved in slow leapfrog fashion, Section A protecting the rear while Section B regrouped a few hundred miles further east, allowing Section A to pass through them to a fresh defensive position, and so on.

As a result of this prolonged defensive action along today’s A118, not all the Royalists could reach Romford that evening.

“The Enemy coming after us, so obstructed our march, by alarming us in the Rear, that the whole Body could not get up till the next Morning, though the Enemy dare not venture to fall upon our Rear Guard.”

Romford town probably contained about 1,000 people – we don’t know the exact number.

The arrival of even a few hundred soldiers was bad news. They would have forced their way into inns and homes, commandeered food and supplies without payment – and women were in danger.

Havering’s leading Roundhead, Carew Hervey Mildmay, lived at Marks, a moated mansion west of Collier Row.

He’s said to have fled from the advancing Royalists by swimming his moat.

On Thursday morning, the Royalists probably formed up in the Market Place.

Then “we marched on towards Burntwood” (as Brentwood was often called). There’s no mention of any volunteers from Romford joining their bedraggled force.

The Royalists were fortunate that the Parliamentary commander, Sir Thomas Fairfax, was still in Kent. He arrived later, passing through Horndon-on-the-Hill.

Fairfax would certainly have attacked and overwhelmed the weak Royalist remnant.

Wayside pubs, like the Ship in Gidea Park and the Golden Fleece at Brook Street, were probably plundered for food and drink.

Parliamentary soldiers immediately entered Romford “and followed us with Alarms in our Rear”. There are no reports of casualties, but it took all day for the Royalists to cover the six miles through Gidea Park and Harold Wood.

At Brentwood, their prospects improved.

Sir Charles Lucas arrived with reinforcements, and more volunteers appeared at Chelmsford the following day. Lord Norwich’s force soon grew to 4,000 men.

The 1648 uprising ended in tragedy.

The Royalists took refuge in the walled town of Colchester, hoping that other uprisings around the country would come to their aid.

They endured a thirteen-week siege, until starvation forced them to surrender.

It’s likely that 2,000 people died in the misery. Colchester took decades to recover.

The vengeful Fairfax had Lucas and another Royalist officer, Sir George Lisle, shot by firing squad outside Colchester Castle.

Lord Norwich escaped the death penalty thanks to the casting vote of the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Charles I also paid the price for being the focus of the uprisings. He was executed in January 1649.

It’s said that grass never grew on the spot where Lucas and Lisle fell. Today it’s tarmac.

Related articles


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories


A man who is wanted in connection with nine burglaries was arrested in a police raid after he jumped from an upstairs window.

A woman has been taken to hospital after a three-car pile up on the A127 in Upminster this morning (Monday, January 22).

Two 20-year-olds from Chadwell Heath and Goodmayes have been charged in connection with a robbery in Southend on Saturday (January 20).

A 60s-themed show celebrating everything that is British will be taking centre stage at a Romford theatre.

Around 30pc of women in Havering aged 25-49 are not getting smear tests when invited, according to worrying figures from the borough’s healthcare experts.

These are the first purple Elizabeth line roundels installed ahead of the line’s official opening in December.

The National Trust is urging any past or present Havering residents to share their memories of Rainham Hall during the 60s.

Yesterday, 15:00

Havering had the highest number of cases in London of a chronic lung disease which has been associated with air pollution in the last year, new figures reveal.


Window and conservatory specialist Ken Rhodes talks about the possibilities for brightening up your home for the new year, and with their home improvement finance deals it’s possible for everyone to make some changes

Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now