The Battle of Rowton Moor was one of the last major battles of the English Civil War, which took place three miles to the south east of Chester on the 24th of September 1645. The defeat of the Royalist Army by Parliamentary forces, led to the fall of Chester in February 1646 and was a decisive factor in the final defeat of King Charles I and his subsequent execution on the 30th of January 1649.
Standing on the North-East corner of the city walls over looking the canal, is the tower called "King Charles's Tower".
Called so because legend has it on the 24th of September 1645. King Charles stood on the tower and watched his army defeated in the battle of Rowton Moor.
This fact is not correct because you cannot see Rowton from the tower.
It is situated 3 miles to the South East of Chester on the modern A41 road before Christleton. What he may have seen however,
was his defeated army fleeing back to the safety of the city after the battle in the evening.
The Inscription above the door on King Charles Tower reads
'King Charles Stood on this Tower Sept. 24 1645.
And saw his army defeated on Rowton Moor'.
Detail from the Town Hall showing Charles I entering Chester
On the evening of the 23rd of September 1645 King Charles the first, his guards and Lord Gerrard entered the city through Bridge Gate from Chirk Castle. It was the evening before the Battle of Rowton Moor. He stayed at Frances Gamuls house on Lower Bridge Street.
The next evening he is said to have watched the battle partly from the Phoenix Tower and partly from the tower of the Cathedral. From which he is said to have nearly been shot by a sniper. The main battle started at 4pm on heath ground 3 miles West of the City called Millers Heath. The battle lasted most of the evening of the 24th with scattered fights between Rowton and the city walls. The Royalists lost the battle with over 2000 killed or captured.
Frances Gamul's house on Lower Bridge Street.
A young Frances Gamul from the family memorial in St Mary's Church.
The next day the King left Chester for Denbigh Castle. The first civil war was nearly over. The tower received damage during the siege of Chester and had to be rebuilt in 1658.
Stained Glass image of Charles I from Chester Cathedral.
The window through which King Charles I watched the Battle of Rowton Moor
A battle plan of Rowton Moor is displayed on the Upper Floor next to the window through which King Charles is said to have
watched the battle.
Key Stages of the Battle
The battle of Rowton Moor was fought on horse back and on foot over a wide area to the East of Chester.
The fighting drew closer to Chester as the day wore on. There is a plan of the battle in King Charles tower and on the memorial at Rowton.
1. Royalist Chester is besieged by Parliamentary forces. King Charles seeks to relieve his garrison and enters the city with his cavalry on 23rd September 1645.
This trench was cut to protect the city from attack.
2. Chester's eastern suburbs including Boughton and Hoole are held by Parliamentary forces under Colonel Jones and Major General Louthain.
3. The Royalist commander Sir Marmaduke Langdale, crosses the River Dee at Holt and takes up position on Milner's Heath to intercept General Poyntz, whose Parliamentary troops are tailing the King.
The remains of Holt Castle
4. Poyntz advances from Whitchurch.
5. On the 24th September 1645 the first skirmish at about 9am in the lanes between Hatton and Milner's Heath. Poyntz is repulsed. Both sides send to Chester for orders and reinforcement.
The first stage of the battle was fought on Milner's heath along the country lanes.
6. Landdale is ordered to draw near to Chester, so he advances towards Rowton. Poyntz follows.
7. Parliamentary forces in the Chester suburbs send a force of horse and foot under Colonels Jones and Booth to assist Poyntz. They Meet him on Rowton Moor.
8. The main battle starts at about 4pm. The parliamentary foot, with musketeers, fight on the flanks of Poyntz's cavalry. firing into the flanks of Langdale's horse.
9. By 5.30pm Langdale's force is broken and in confused flight towards Chester, with the Parliamentarians in pursuit.
The King watches his troops retreat defeated from King Charles Tower and the Cathedral Tower.
'Prisoners taken at, and after the rowting of King's Forces on Rowton Heath within 2 miles of Chester on 24th September 1645 : The names are given of :-
Gents of Kings Lifeguards 17
More Gentlemen 20
Troopers, between 800 and 1000
Six very considerable Gentlemen [names given]
2 Lords 2 Knights
1 Colonel 1 Lieutenant-Colonel
and 300 and more officers and common soldiers"
King Charles leaves Chester the next day via the Old Dee Bridge. His army defeated.
Royalist prisoners were held in St Michael's church after the siege.
Musket ball marks from the siege of Chester.
The City Walls also suffered damage during the siege of Chester. This section was breached by cannon fire.
Account of the Victory
Original letter from Colonell General Poynts to Honourable William Lenthall describing the victory at Rowton Moor
Letter from Colonell Poynts to Honourable William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons concerning Glenham, Coll. Gerard and Sir Marmaduke Langdale in the last fight near Chester.
A perfect narration of the Colonell of the said procedings. And the Master of horse and man taken to the pursuit and which way His Majesty fled.
29th September 1645
By the Lords assembled in Parliament that Col. Gen. Poynts, with Colonell Parsons Relation be henceforth printed.
J. Brown Cler. Parliamentorum.
For the Right Honourable William Lenthall Esquire, Speaker of the House of Commons.
In the conclusion of a hard march it hath pleased God to deliver the enemy into our hands where in he hath sufficiently manifest his providence. Yesterday we discovered the enemy on Millers heath within three miles of Chester, whereupon I sent to Chester for some feet which was sent me, and in my advance towards then ew unawares met a body of them in a narrow pass on top of the heath, where we had a very violent encounter, where in we cut off many of the King's Life guard and routed the rest, we retreated to our main body, anf towardsfour of the clock in the afternoon we advanced towards them, and finding the enemy ready for battle we presently fell upon them, killed, took, wounded and routed the whole army, and I am confident they never received a greater blow.
I have only a catalogue of few, the rest being sent to Tarvin and other garisons in these parts. As yet collected.
These Colonels, Sir Thomas, Sir Thomas Dacres, Sir Philip Musgrave, Sir Thomas Drawbridge court, Sir Thomas Gower, Sir Thomas Westland son to the Earl of Portland and Col. Cromwell, James Martin Quartermaster General, Col. John Gifford Lietenant, Col. Edward Hatton and Liet. Col. Constable, Cap. Wyvell, Cap. Cottrill, Cap. Morgan, Cap. Mountaine, Cap. Le Strange, Cap. Swinho, and Cap. Constable. Its reported Sir Marmaduke Langdale is either killed or taken ; you shall with all conveniency receive a complete list from me.
There was killed the Earl of Lichfield, brother to the Duke of Lennox, and Sir Brian Stapleton a notorious Popist who was lately in Ireland, His Majesties sollicitor for ten thousand men. In this tender of my service I desire it may be forthwith communicated to the House from whom I desire to receive orders, in the mean time I shall continue thereabouts, using my endeavors in reducing the City. Where in, and in all my other endeavors I shall ever rest.
Your most humble faithful servant
September 25th 1645
Gerrard is deadly wounded if not already slain,
This Gentlemen Colonell Parsons having the charge of bringing up the reserves, has done very good service in the discharge thereof. I desire the house may think of some further incouragement for the Yorkshire horse Col. Beathall and Col. Graves very much for their services.
Civil War Armour
This Civil War boot is on display in the Grosvenor Museum.
Sir Frances Gamul from the Farndon Civil War Memorial Window.
A Carved statue of Charles I on Bridge Street.
Today Rowton is a quite village. There is a small memorial to the battle in the centre of the village. You can still some of the fields and heath land upon which the battle was fought. This is a small sandstone and brick building next to the A41. This building is said to be used as a field hospital during the battle. It can be seen from the road. The building looks like it is old enough. But it is only 6' x 6' inside !
Civil War Field Hospital next to the A41.
Rowton Moor Memorial
This memorial stone is in the centre of the village of Rowton.