Farndon Local History Pages

Farndon and the Civil War

St. Chad's Civil War Window (Barnston Chapel)

The pages concerning Farndon from George Ormerod's 19th century History are reproduced here.

However, during the Civil War in the 17th century, when soldiers were billeted inside and fighting reached the churchyard, such extensive damage was inflicted that in 1658 the church, except the tower, had to be completely rebuilt. This resulted in inconsistencies in the style of the present building. Hanshall, an early-l9th century historian, says "the architecture of the church is much varied, although the pointed Gothic is most prevalent". You can see this in the very pointed arches of the nave. Further changes and restoration were made during the 19th and 2Oth centuries, most recently in 1988, resulting in the church you find today, at peace to serve the local community. The Roar of Musket and Cannon The story of the church's role in the Civil War is an exciting one. It was in 1643, when Sir William Brereton, commander of the Cheshire and Lancashire Parliamentarian forces, was using it as a barracks for his troops, that the building suffered the damage referred to above. The Parliamentarians needed to force a passage over the Dee and invade the Royalist stronghold of Wales. On 9th November some 2,000 Roundheads were assembled near the bridge, on which the Royalists had built a defensive gatehouse. On the opposite bank, the Royalists were well prepared, their ranks swelled by extra troops from Ireland. They rang the bells of Holt church backwards and lit beacons to warn of the invasion. Brereton distracted the defence by marching a detachment of his troops down river. Then a second division attacked the bridge with the full force of their grenades, and broke through. Both sides fought backwards and forwards along the bridge and as far back as Farndon churchyard. In the confusion of battle few even noticed that the church roof was ablaze. Brereton by-passed Holt Castle to take Wrexham and Hawarden. Although severely damaged, Farndon church remained a garrison until the winter of 1645, when advancing Royalists, led by Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, forced the Roundheads to flee, after more heavy fighting, leaving the church derelict. At the height of the fighting in 1643, the medieval font was badly damaged and was later repaired by Samuel Woolley of Churton. However, the font you see today is more probably the one installed by the churchwardens in 1662 and first used in 1664. The plain octagonal design is typical of that period.

In 1662, William also commissioned the Civil War window, in the end wall of this chapel, to commemorate the Royalist defenders of Chester. The artist obtained accurate details of dress and equipment from contemporary illustrations. You can see that the officers wear "bucket-top" boots, while the musketeers, pikemen and musicians have breeches and stockings with garters tied in a bow. From left to right along the top are Sir Richard Grosvenor, Sir William Mainwaring and William Barnston, identified by their coats of arms. In the centre, Sir Francis Gamul, another of Charles's attendants at the Siege of Chester, stands in front of his tent, reviewing a fascinating array of equipment.


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