Zak Spade's

English Civil War

Published under my View from the Stairs column in a magazine covering north Buckinghamshire, October 2011, as:
English Civil War
by Phil J O'Hara

o - O - o

The words New City of Milton Keynes are what appear on road signs greeting drivers coming here. We will gloss over whether Milton Keynes has city status or not and concentrate on the word ‘new.’

Milton Keynes appears in the Domesday Book compiled in 1086 as Mideltone. However, one would be wrong to think that nothing took place near or around Milton Keynes until Bletchley Park.

There was a period of political upheaval and bloodshed (1642–1651) between Parliamentarians and Royalists known as the English Civil War.

By the time of the Domesday Book, Newport Pagnell, now adjoining modern Milton Keynes, was a seriously happening place. Located at the confluence of two rivers; the Ouse and the Lovat, Newport Pagnell came about as a location along routes between major centres of the day. Consequently there was a need for someone to be able to supply travellers with quality Astyne Martyne horse drawn carts.

It was fortunate for the soldiers fighting the English Civil War that Newport Pagnell existed otherwise the dark days of political unrest and activity between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists would have taken place in open fields watched only by crows and bored rabbits.

Initially, Newport Pagnell was a Royalist stronghold. The Royalist troops were sent packing by Parliamentarians who afterwards set about building fortifications consisting of earthworks - the remains of which can still be seen to this day.

Newport Pagnell found itself on the side of the Parliamentarians who eventually won. However, in the long run, the Royalists were the victors with the Restoration of 1660.

The present day monarchy doesn't appear to be bearing any grudges against Newport Pagnell. The citizens of the town are not forced to pay tithes or unfair taxes as retribution for backing the 'wrong side' back when dark days were truly dark.

It is said that Oliver Cromwell's second son, also called Oliver, died in Newport Pagnell around 1644 of smallpox. However, given the dangerous nature of smallpox back then, and the apparent lack of mass displacement of the Newport Pagnell population around that time, it might not have happened as claimed.

Some commentators have mischievously suggested that Newport Pagnell's independence of Milton Keynes has come about because no one is really sure whether Newport Pagnell was for or against the Establishment. The preponderance of royal events in Milton Keynes compared to those in Newport Pagnell, could be taken as a sign. The fact that the town was not subsumed into the 'New City of Milton Keynes' as were the larger towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford, seems a clearer signal.

The modern Newport Pagnell doesn't openly express an opinion on whether it would prefer to be a Parliamentarian or Royalist town in the event of a new civil war between supporters of the political coalition running our fair land and those of the royal family. However, should another Charles start making wild demands upon the citizens of Newport Pagnell, I suspect that voices may well be raised!

© 2011

31 August 2021