The autumnal setting of Aston Hall rang with the sound of musket fire on Sunday 11 October, as the historic property plays host to a party of Civil War soldiers asking the crucial question of the day: “Do you support King or Parliament?”
From 11.00am to 4.00pm, costumed re-enactors patrolled the grounds in Civil War recreations which bring to life the fateful moment in English History when Parliament – led by Oliver Cromwell – rebelled against the monarch, Charles I.
“The Civil War was a terrible time for the people of England, with staunch supporters of the monarchy battling against the Parliamentarian forces of Cromwell, but the war was not quite as clear cut as Roundheads against Cavaliers, as throughout the turmoil, soldiers swapped their allegiances depending on how the war was going,” comments Kimberley Biddle, Museum Team Manager for Aston Hall. “Families were torn apart and forced to fight each other in a war which saw many of the country’s historic castles partially demolished so that they could never again be used as a stronghold. Visitors to Aston Hall will see this it too bears the scars of cannon fire!”
Stationed alongside the soldiers throughout the day will be a barber surgeon – a gentleman who, as well as shaving off the soldier’s whiskers, was called upon during battle to tend to the wounded, and even amputate limbs! With a toolkit comprising scissors, razor, clamps and a saw, visitors can hear stories of the distinctly barbaric steps used to save someone’s life in an age before antibiotics!
“Our soldiers will fire their muskets, so although we’re expecting shots to ring out, their aim is true and our barber surgeon will not be required to step in!” adds Kimberley.
The costumes of the re-enactors will also come under the spotlight in a mini fashion show, looking at the typical extravagant plumage, flowing hair and decorative trimmings of the Royalists – the term ‘Cavalier’ was first attached to this groups as an insult, but was soon adopted by the King’s supporters – to the more austere and functional clothing, hairstyles and armour of the Roundheads.
For more information, visit www.birminghammuseums.org.uk