Wimborne transforms (back) into thrilling 17th century English Civil War


The English Civil Way Society held the Battle for Wimborne over the May Bank Holiday weekend at Julian’s Bridge. followed by a ‘Rior at the Minster’ whilst Living History was displayed at Willow Walk. image © Wimborne BID

Wimborne’s summer of history kicked off with a thrilling re-enactment of The Battle for Wimborne over the May bank holiday weekend, as hundreds of members of the English Civil War Society (ECWS) descended on the town. Wimborne was transported back to the 17th century with two large, exciting re-enactment battles on Sunday and Monday. With the Minster’s towers in the background, the sounds of live cannons and musket fire filled the air as foot soldiers and cavalry clashed in realistic battle scenes. The re-enactment told the story of the Wimbornites’ plot – a Roundhead Officer in Poole was bribed to open the town gates. On the night the Wimbornites set off, the main gates were opened as promised … but not the inner ones. They came under heavy attack before being forced to flee with many casualties – they had been betrayed!

image © Wimborne BID

Throughout the weekend, Wimborne hosted parades, demonstrations of military manoeuvres, and war drum performances.
The re-enactment included a recreation of The Riot in The Minster, where Lord Shaftesbury, whose family still resides in Wimborne St Giles, ordered musketeers to shoot at the citizens in the Minster Church. Fortunately, the riot was quelled.
Shoppers and visitors also encountered characters from 17th-century civilian life around the town, showcasing ancient skills such as hurdle making, leather working, apothecary, candle-making, and playing traditional instruments.

image © Wimborne BID

Wimborne’s Stephen Burden, member of the ECWS for 50 years, and the ECWS Royalist Colonel General of Dorset, said, ‘This immersive type of event, where the whole town is transported back to the 17th century, has never been staged in Dorset before. We couldn’t wish for a better backdrop than beautiful, historic Wimborne Minster. The whole town has been captivated by the exciting and spectacular displays. Everyone seems to have enjoyed it – lots of people have asked when we will be back!’

image © Wimborne BID

Fiona Harwood, Chair of Wimborne BID, added, ‘This has been such a successful event, drawing new visitors to Wimborne and bringing the town to life over the weekend. More than 3,000 people turned out to witness the battles. It’s been tremendous fun!’

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