Battle of Stow (-on-the-Wold) 1646


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Cotswold (District Authority)
Cotswold (District Authority)
Cotswold (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 18490 28243



The Civil Wars of the mid seventeenth century were a reflection of profound political, constitutional, religious and social conflict which was expressed in a struggle for control between King and Parliament.

By the spring of 1646 the King's remaining field armies were disbanding but Charles I clung to the hope of rescue by foreign forces. If Lord Astley could fight his way to Oxford from the West, the King might be able to hold out until an invasion.

Astley's eastward march was halted north of Stow in 21 March when his 3,000-strong force was confronted by a smaller Parliamentarian army. Having charged uphill, the Parliamentarian army was at first thrown back but the cavalry of Sir William Brereton made a decisive attack on the right flank. The Royalists fled, the cavalry escaping and the foot soldiers chased as far as Stow market square.

Stow was the last battle of the first civil war. With Astley's defeat the King had lost his last field army, and the end of the war was in sight. Charles finally surrendered near Newark in May 1646.

The battle was largely fought over open grassland used for sheep-grazing. However, ancient boundary hedgerows survive in places, indicating that some of the land was enclosed before the main episode of hedge laying in the nineteenth century. The village square in Stow retains a strongly historic character.

AMENITY FEATURES Although public access to the battlefield on foot is possible, there is currently no interpretation available to visitors. The historic town of Stow itself, where the battle ended, provides the most rewarding destination in connection with the battle.

OTHER DESIGNATIONS The battlefield lies within Green Belt for planning purposes. It falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Stow-on-the-Wold, Donnington and Longborough are Conservation Areas. Within the battlefield locality there are many ancient monuments, mostly prehistoric burial mounds. The quarry to the north-west of Ganborough House is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The valley of the River Eye above Upper Swell is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest identified by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Abbots Wood, to the west of Stow is included in the English Heritage Historic Parks and Gardens Register

KEY SOURCES English Heritage, 1995, Battlefield Report: Stow-on-the-Wold 1646 The Military Memoirs of Colonel John Birch (Camden Society), 1873 Field, R, 1992, Stow-on-the-Wold 1646


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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This battlefield is registered within the Register of Historic Battlefields by Historic England for its special historic interest.

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