Sunday, October 16, 2011
THE BRIDGE AT EAST FARLEIGH
England is a beautiful country chock-a-block full of ancient history - you can't even swing a cat without bumping into some kind of monument or significant piece of architecture dating back to the Year Dot where somebody did something heroic and the friendly natives are willing and proud to tell you all about whatever it was, and of course they remember it like it was yesterday. In my explorations of the English countryside, I encountered the remarkable masonry stone arch bridge at East Farleigh, in Kent, which played a part in the Battle of Maidstone, a turning point of the Second English Civil War of 1648-49.
The Battle of Maidstone took place on 1 June, 1648. After outflanking the Earl of Norwich's main Royalist forces on Burham Heath and a diversionary feint towards Aylesford, Sir Thomas Fairfax (of Cromwell's New Model Army) and his force of approximately 6000 men crossed the River Medway at East Farleigh bridge virtually unopposed.
Early skirmishes began on Penenden Heath, located strategically to launch an attack between the two defending Royalist formations in Aylesford and Maidstone. Norwich did not realise the significance of the attack until late afternoon when Fairfax decided to use his advantage to storm the town itself that same day from the south side. The battle moved into a phase of intense fighting in heavy rain, street by street and 'inch by inch' as each Royalist barricade was ferociously forced and taken.
The battle lasted for the rest of the day and into the night with the Royalists retreating towards their last and final position in St Faith's Churchyard. Fairfax finally overcame fierce resistance to take command of the town of Maidstone during a raging thunderstorm just after midnight.
Today's Bird HERE