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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

GUEST POST BY AUTHOR ABIGAIL DANE, PART TWO

GUEST POST BY AUTHOR ABIGAIL DANE, PART TWO
From Victoria:  Abigail Dane, author of The Pirate and the Virgin, presents the second installment of her research notes.  Welcome back, Abigail!



Battle of Worcester and its Aftermath
Part 2 of 3


      Cromwell’s army took on its own grueling march—20 miles a day in extreme heat for seven days—to reach Ferrybridge on August 19th. Once again, the ever-pragmatic Worcester decided to align itself with the faction occupying it at the time. Cromwell’s New Model Army forces were, by then, 31,000 strong. Delaying the battle just long enough to build two pontoon bridges, Cromwell launched his attack against Charles on September 3rd—the one-year anniversary of the victory at Dunbar.
     With a 2:1 troop advantage stretching over a four-mile-long arc toward the town of Worcester, Cromwell was able to push back the Royalist forces, despite fierce fighting. The Royalist retreat turned into a trouncing after the capture of Fort Royal, a redoubt on a small hill to the southeast of the town. Among Charles’ army, 3,000 were killed and 10,000 captured. Some leaders were executed; some prisoners were sent to fight for Cromwell in Ireland; and around 8,000 Scots were deported to the New World and made to labor as indentured workers there. By contrast, the Parliamentarian casualties were estimated at a mere 200. A clear and complete rout for Cromwell.
The Proscribed Royalist, 1651, by John Everett Millais, (1853)
After the Battle of Worcester, a young Puritan woman helps a fleeing Royalist—Charles II himself?—
to escape, by hiding him in a hollow tree.


     In the next day’s report of the victory to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Cromwell famously wrote:
The dimensions of this mercy are above my thoughts. It is, for aught I know, a crowning mercy.

     That last sentence, later inscribed on the plaque placed on the Sidbury Gate in Worcester, reads in full:


THE LAST BATTLE OF THE CIVIL WAR
WAS FOUGHT AT WORCESTER ON
3rd SEPTEMBER 1651

IT IS FOR AUGHT I KNOW
A CROWNING MERCY
OLIVER CROMWELL

NEAR THIS SPOT IN THE CITY WALL STOOD
THE SIDBURY GATE, WHICH WAS STORMED
BY THE PARLIAMENTARIAN TROOPS.
ERECTED BY THE CROMWELL ASSOCIATION
AND WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL
WITH THE AID OF PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION
1993

     Thus, the Royalist Army was destroyed and the bloody and costly conflict known as the “English Civil War” finally ended. As preacher Hugh Peters put it: “…at Worcester, where England’s sorrows began…they were happily ended.” Ironically, as a result of Charles II’s ill-fated decision to detour to Worcester, the final battle was fought just where the first battle had been fought on September 23, 1642—almost exactly nine years earlier.
     Unable to rally his troops and realizing his cause was lost, the thoroughly defeated monarch removed his armor, found a fresh mount and escaping as darkness fell, began a harrowing six-week-long flight. At one point, he hid from the patrols in an oak tree (now referred to as the “Royal Oak”) on the grounds of Boscobel House, as depicted in Millais’ painting, The Proscribed Royalist, 1651. A fearless actor, the fugitive king sometimes hid in plain sight; on one occasion striding through a crowd of Cromwell’s soldiers; on another boldly declaring to the blacksmith who was shoeing his horse: “If that rogue Charles Stuart is taken, he deserves to be hanged more than all the rest, for bringing in the Scots.”
     At a time when the average man was 5’6”, the fugitive king was 6’2” and swarthy. Being so distinctive and hard to disguise made him an exceptional target. The £1,000 reward on his head and the “death without mercy” decree for anyone found helping him made him a tempting one, as well.

Source: “Historical Notes: Battle of Worcester and its Aftermath,” in The Baron and the Lady, book two in the “Whitleigh series” by Abigail Dane.  http://TransitionsUnlimited.biz, AbigailDaneRomance@gmail.org


Abigail Dane

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A TOUR GUIDE IN ENGLAND: DAY FOUR - PART THREE: DINNER AT SIMPSON'S IN THE STRAND






You may recall that in Part One of our Day Four post Diane, Jo and I had gone on a London Walk of the Covent Garden area that included a stop at Simpson's in the Strand restaurant. I told you then that there would be more about this venerable and much loved eatery to come and so there shall be. Now.



From the Simpson's in the Strand website:

Originally opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house - The Grand Cigar Divan - Simpson's soon became known as the "home of chess", attracting such chess luminaries as Howard Staunton the first English world chess champion through its doors. It was to avoid disturbing the chess games in progress that the idea of placing large joints of meat on silver-domed trolleys and wheeling them to guests' tables first came into being, a practice Simpson's still continues today. One of the earliest Master Cooks insisted that everything in the restaurant be British and the Simpson's of today remains a proud exponent of the best of British food. Famous regulars include Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and his fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes), Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.





Known for it's joints of beef wheeled tableside on huge, steel trollies, Simpsons has always been a favourite of those with a literary bent. From Wikipedia In E. M. Forster's Howards End, Henry Wilcox is a devotee of Simpson's. P. G. Wodehouse devoted several paragraphs of Something New to the restaurant, and in his novel Psmith in the City, his two heroes dine there: "Psmith waited for Mike while he changed, and carried him off in a cab to Simpson's, a restaurant which, as he justly observed, offered two great advantages, namely, that you need not dress, and, secondly, that you paid your half-crown, and were then at liberty to eat till you were helpless, if you felt so disposed, without extra charge." Simpson's is also featured in Wodehouse's "Cocktail Time" as the restaurant that one of the characters, Cosmo Wisdom, chooses to lunch at after leaving Prison. Simpson's also features in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Watson joins Holmes there during the story "The Illustrious Client" the detective is sitting "looking down at the rushing stream of life in the Strand."


The window in the upstairs bar at Simpsons. Possibly the window Holmes himself had gazed out from. 

So you see, it's not unusual that I should have chosen Simpson's as the scene of this evening's dinner party, for a party it was to be and, as Diane and I had some time before the rest of my guests arrived, we headed upstairs to Knight's Bar for a cocktail. Wodehouse would no doubt have approved. 

Literary connections aside, Simpson's has also been the site of a Royal intrigue or two, the most widely known being that Simpson's, this very bar no less, was used by King Edward VII to secretly meet with his mistress, Lillie Langtry.

Lillie Langtry and King Edward VII


Diane and I took a table by the window, which gave us a direct view of the table and mural, above. This was Edward VII's table, as it stands by itself in a corner alcove, away from prying eyes. The mural disguise's a hidden door, through which the lovely Lilly would slip in order to sit beside her Royal lover. 



And so Diane and I sat with our cocktails and waited for the rest of the party to arrive. Can you guess who they were? A member of the Royal Family, perhaps? Much better - my guests this evening were some of the fabulous guest speakers and guides who will be part of Number One London's 2017 Tours.



From left to right: Diane Perkins (Diane Gaston), Kristine Hughes Patrone, Ian Fletcher, 
Nicola Cornick and Melanie Hilton (Louise Allen)

Oysters, dinner, wine and a grand time were had by all!


Full Details Regarding Number One London's 
2017 Tours Coming Soon!