The Civil War encapsulated in a single siege

Between 1643 and 1645, Basing House in Hampshire – which once rivalled Hampton Court in size and opulence – was besieged by Parliament’s forces.

The house was a Royalist bastion and its owner, the Marquess of Winchester, who repeatedly refused to surrender, had the motto “Love Loyalty” etched into the window. The house finally fell to the guns of the New Model Army lead by Oliver Cromwell in October 1645.

But during the Civil Wars there were more than 300 such sieges, so what makes Basing House worthy of special attention?

As research by the award-winning author and historian Jessie Childs reveals, this is a fascinating microcosm of many of the themes of the conflict in her bestselling book “The Siege of Loyalty House: A new history of the English Civil War” which is now available in paperback and audiobook.

At Basing House no one was left untouched. The defenders were a diverse cast of characters who reflected every part of society in seventeenth century England. Here was one of the richest men in England who hid away with his books while a cannon ball passed through his bedroom; successful Protestant merchants who were neighbors on the same London street and became military tacticians overnight; the famed architect Inigo Jones designed the fortifications which kept the parliamentary army at bay; gamekeepers who became snipers; and, women hurled bricks at the besiegers. Irrespective of class or gender they all suffered the same privations of plague and starvation and experienced the horrors of early chemical warfare and the fear of massacre and rape. Some became heroes and others cowards.

Listen here

Also available on

The World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down - The British Civil Wars 1638-1651
The Civil War encapsulated in a single siege
bio copy 3


Jessie Childs

Jessie Childs

Award-winning author, broadcaster and historian

Her debut book Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (Jonathan Cape, 2006) won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical…

Read Biography

Learn more

glossary copy 7

Interactive Glossary