Powick and the surrounding area holds a unique place in English History. In 1642 the first real skirmish of the Civil War took place at Powick Bridge, in 1651 the last battle of the same conflict again took place in Powick.
The first battle saw the Royalist Prince Rupert stun the Parliamentarians. Nine years later the battle of 1651 saw Charles II, the son of the executed Charles I, lead an army of 16,000, mainly Scots, to face Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army of approximately twice the size.
On the 1st August Charles II crossed the English Border with Scotland with the aim of marching on London. The army marched down the West Coast, skirting the Welsh Border in the hope of gathering more support.
Cromwell meanwhile was also marching south and planned to intercept Charles between Lichfield and Coventry to prevent progress to London.
Charles however changed his plans and decided to head to Worcester, in a region which had seen some of the strongest support for his father.
The Royalist Army arrived on the 22nd August and spent the next five days resting and preparing for battle. The preparations included partly destroying the bridge at Upton, with the intention of making the heavily defended bridge at Powick the only crossing over the Severn to the City.
Cromwell meanwhile set up camp at Spetchley Park, and drew up plans for pontoon bridges at the confluence of the Severn and the Teme.
The Scots initially defended the bridge against sustained attacks from the Parliamentarian forces; only Cromwell’s personal intervention across the pontoon bridge finally led to the fall of Powick Bridge into his hands. The taking of Powick Bridge had weakened Cromwell’s forces and Charles, watching the battle from the top of Cathedral saw the potential to exploit the position and led an attack against the Parliamentarian’s right flank.
For a time it appeared that the Royalists may overrun the Parliamentarians, but Cromwell again crossed the Severn and made a second decisive intervention which eventually led to the fall of the city. Charles II was forced to flee and go into hiding, finally leaving England forty-five days later.
It was not until 1660, and only after Oliver Cromwell’s death that Charles II was able to return to England and claim the throne.
Musket ball marks can be still be seen in the tower of Powick Church. The timbered- framed cottages near the Red Lion pub were supposed to have been used by Cromwell as a hospital.
The Battle of Worcester Society has been recently formed to attempt to bring the battle’s to greater prominence in the minds of the City’s residents and to try and create a tourist trail around the main battle sites.