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Civil war re-enactment at Valence House

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:30 04 June 2015

Take up arms and prepare for a bloody battle to defend Dagenham’s Valence House!

On Sunday, May 24, and Monday, May 25 Royalist soldiers will make camp in the grounds of the museum as they prepare to come head-to-head with the Parliamentarians.

But don’t worry – Barking and Dagenham isn’t really in the midst of a civil war.

Instead, the museum is hosting a 17th century English Civil War re-enactment to celebrate the borough’s 50th anniversary.

“We haven’t had an event like this in the borough before and so there’s been a lot of excitement surrounding it,” museum curator Leeanne Westwood said.

“The days are jam-packed with activities. We’re hoping for more than 4,000 visitors.”

Sir Marmaduke Rawdon’s Regiment of Foote, which is part of the English Civil War Society, will take up residence at the house to recreate the life of a band of Royalist soldiers.

The regiment will give demonstrations on how pikemen handled 16ft long spears and gunners and musketeers will demonstrate how to fire cannons and muskets.

Visitors can also be part of living history by visiting the soldiers’ camp which includes an officer’s tent, an armoury and a blacksmith.

At the end of both days, 150 pikemen, musketeers, and gunners will engage in battle in the grounds of Valence Park as Parliamentarians and Royalists come head-to-head.

“Guests will be astounded by the noise,” said Alistair North, from the Regiment of Foote, who has taken part in re-enactments for 22 years.

“Magnify that sound by 20 and you’ll have an idea of how the noise would have startled people from the 17th century.”

Alistair has taken part in about 150 re-enactments and said his love for history inspired him to join the English Civil War Society.

“I thought re-enactments would be a new way of experiencing history,” he explained.

“I think they give you a better idea of what it would have been like in those times and you can understand the emotions people may have had.”

Sir Marmaduke has links to Valence House via his relationship with the Fanshawe family, who owned the house and estate for a while and bequeathed papers, and paintings to the museum.

The Fanshawes were Royalists and Sir Marmaduke protected Lady Ann Fanshawe as she travelled from Oxford to Bristol in 1645. Her portrait hangs in Valence House.

The weekend is part of a series of events, of which the Post is a media partner, marking the borough’s anniversary. To find out more, go to lbbd.gov.uk/2015


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