1645 - LEICESTER CASTLE UNDER ATTACK
The English Civil War spanned nine years from 1642–1651. It was a series of armed conflicts between the monarchy and the English Parliament. Leicester was in the hands of the Parliamentarians, yet within the immediate vicinity of the Royalist towns of Newark and Ashby. Taking Leicester would create a Royalist stronghold in a growing Parliamentarian region.
At 3 o’clock on May 30th 1645, the Royalist battery was set up facing the stone wall of the Newarke and Leicester Castle’s Great Hall. The defenders retaliated with cannon and musket fire. By six o’clock that evening, a large breach had been made in the Newarke wall, on the north side of Mill Lane.
As firing continued, the defenders worked desperately to try and repair the damage. The Royalists planned to storm the town. At midnight the assault began. Reports state that Leicester was attacked in seven different places at once. Soldiers and townsmen stood side by side, unwilling to surrender themselves to the throne. They fought street by street, house by house. After fierce hand-to-hand encounters, the besieged were forced to retreat. They made a last stand in the market square. They finally threw down their weapons when faced with a charge of horses. At the end of the Civil War, when King Charles I was put on trial, Leicester was mentioned as an example of his cruelty. A witness claimed that the King had ridden through the town in his bright armour and said of the atrocities: “I do not care if they cut them three times more, for they are mine enemies.”