Civil War part two: Hoghton Tower destroyed

Posted on - 25th July, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, Preston News
The Battle of Preston Pic: Harris Museum Wikimedia
The Battle of Preston Pic: Harris Museum Wikimedia

After Preston fell to the Parliamentarians in 1643, the escaped Gilbert Hoghton was pursued to Hoghton Tower. Captain Sharkey the Parliamentarian commander, approached the stronghold with trepidation. Importantly, several cannon and over 100 royalist troops protected the building. Next a parley was arranged.


Outnumbered, the garrison decided to surrender, however shortly afterward a massive explosion destroyed the tower. Inside, many limbs were blown off and the result resembled a butchers shop. Sabotage was suspected, on the other hand, an accident due to smoking next to the gunpowder store, was more likely.

Lancaster besieged

Lancaster Castle gatehouse Pic: Geoffrey Whittaker
Lancaster Castle gatehouse Pic: Geoffrey Whittaker

Lord Derby, the Royalist commander looked on in dismay at an occupied Preston. Consequently he skirted the town and headed for the Royalist stronghold of the Fylde. Here, he gathered a large force and besieged Lancaster, the town was virtually destroyed and the Parliamentary forces withdrew to the castle.

The Parliamentarians in Preston feared an attack and sent a force North to head it off. This left the town lightly defended. Lord Derby waited for the parliamentary forces to leave and headed directly for Preston. Cannon were fired into the town and Royalist sympathizers locked the defenders horses in their stables.

After a battle Preston was again held by the Royalists. The war continued until 1646 when Charles I surrendered to the Scots. They then, handed him over to Parliamentary forces. Nevertheless that was not the end of agitation by the King. Namely, he escaped and fermented more trouble.

The second civil war, Cromwell attacks near Preston

Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell

By 1647 Charles I was held at Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight, however he still managed to communicate with the Scots. He promised them that he would introduce Presbyterianism to England, if they would support him and invade. Meanwhile, royalists were rebelling in South Wales, Kent and East Anglia. This kept Cromwell busy until the Scots crossed the border.

The scots invaded while Fairfax, the Parliamentarian leader was suppressing the rebellion in Kent. Consequently Lancashire was vulnerable, Parliamentarians immediately started to raise forces under the command of Colonel Assheton.

Model of the 1648 Battle of Preston Pic: Geoffrey Whittaker
Model of the 1648 Battle of Preston Pic: Geoffrey Whittaker

Regiments were formed under the command of Rigby, Doddington, Standish and two of the Shuttleworth family. However, less than 2,000 men had been raised. Next, this force moved North to rendezvous with Lambert at Carlisle.

It was expected that the Scots, under the Royalist leader Hamilton, would advance down the East coast however they proceeded through Westmoreland now Cumbria. Initially the advance was slow giving time for Cromwell to head North and join Lambert near Wetherby, on 13 August 1648.

Cromwell’s forces were outnumbered as they advanced via Skipton and Clitheroe to Stonyhurst. Here he camped for the night fearful of catholic sympathisers. The Scots continued their slow advance through Lancaster towards Preston. The royalist forces totalled 22,000 men while Cromwell had only 9,000. The jubilant Royalists expected an easy victory.

Read more: Civil War part one: Preston falls to Parliamentary forces in 1643

The first clash occurred in Ribbleton where Lambert was cut to pieces by Cromwell’s troops. Hamilton was,meanwhile, still on the outskirts of Preston heading South. He ignored Lambert’s requests for help. Consequently, Lambert was pushed back into the town.

Assheton’s Lancashire contingent then outflanked Hamilton and cut the Scottish force in two. Hamilton forces decided to retreat towards Penwortham hoping to reform later. However Cromwell continued the pursuit and it became a rout. Straglers were still surrendering weeks later.

The King’s fate was sealed by this rebellion and he was beheaded by a furious Parliament on 30 January 1649.

Coming next Preston’s lost canal…

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