Marching for the King
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
BERWICK-UPON-TWEED is a town rightly conscious of its history. Thirteen
times it changed hands between Scotland and England. Though English now, and in
the Newcastle diocese, much about it is Scottish.
Its unusual church is famed for having no tower or spire: it was built in
plain Cromwellian times shortly after the execution of the King. The Civil War
features largely in Berwick's history, for it was captured by the Royalists in
The English Civil War Society recently attended a 17th-century service at
the parish church conducted by the Vicar of Berwick, the Revd Alan Hughes (
centre). In return, they invited him to the King's Army Parade in
London to mark the anniversary of the execution of Charles I in 1649.
Mr Hughes tells me that about 500 members of the English Civil War Society,
with muskets, pikes, horses, baggage carts, and gun carriages, set off from St
James's Palace along the Mall, marching to a muffled drumbeat, and following
the route that Charles took to the scaffold outside the Banqueting House in
The society is the only civil body permitted to march through the streets
with fully functioning weaponry, he says. They went to Trafalgar Square to lay
a wreath at Charles's statue, and carried on to stop beneath the window of the
Banqueting House through which the King stepped on to the scaffold. There Mr
Hughes, wearing a black-and-silver 17th-century cope, read the service of
commemoration from his original 1751 Book of Common Prayer.