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The Battle of Turnham Green

Updated Sunday, 7th January 2001

Charles made a fateful decision when he turned away from a battlie at Turnham Green

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Following Edgehill, London was gripped by terror. Chains went up across the streets, shops closed, angry citizens milled around Parliament fearful of their futures if a vengeful Charles stormed back. Essex's bedraggled army began to return to the capital with tales of Royalist military might and atrocities.

Tales of Popish plots and Royalist spies spread throughout the capital. Prayer meetings were held to seek salvation from their wrathful King.

In the midst of all this, John Pym kept his nerve. Under the leadership of an another veteran of the Thirty Years War, Sir Phillip Skippon, the Westminster Parliament called out the London Trained Bands. This home-grown but well trained militia was to provide London's only resistance against the Royalist force.

Modern Turnham Green Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: David Hawgood under CC-BY-SA licence
Turnham Green

They decided to make their stand in the 'village' of Turnham Green to the west of London. Now just a suburb, in the 1640s it marked a strategic access point into London. By 13th November, a force of 24,000 London soldiers were standing ready to defend their city. When Charles saw these motivated and well-armed troops arraigned against his tired and hungry forces, he foolishly retreated.

Instead of pressing on into London, or swinging south to meet up with his supporters in Kent, Charles ignored Rupert's advice and retired to Hounslow. Then back to Reading, and finally to Oxford.

The 'Battle of Turnham Green' never really happened, but retreating from London and withdrawing to Oxford proved to be a terrible strategic mistake by Charles and his forces.





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