Home > What to expect when you travel back in time to the Battle of Evesham 1265…
The excitement is building in Evesham as it prepares to host England’s largest 13th century battle re-enactment marking the Battle of Evesham fought on the 4 August 1265. Thousands of visitors and residents are expected to descend on Evesham where one of the bloodiest battles ever to be fought in England took place. To prepare you for the weekend we will take you through how this important series of events are portrayed throughout the festival.
The Battle of Evesham was instrumental in leading to the democracy we know today. Prior to the battle, it had been a long struggle between the English kings and their barons over the acceptance of the Magna Carta created 50 years before. For the first time it decreed the king was not to be above the law and the enforcement of this alongside widespread famine was ultimately what led to civil war. The Magna Carta remains a cornerstone of the British constitution today.
Simon de Montfort led the rebellion against King Henry III during the Second Barons’ War and captured Henry III and his son Prince Edward at the Battle of Lewes in 1264. This year the battle is re-enacted on the Sunday of the festival at midday, below you can see Henry III with the familiar three lions of the Royal Arms.
De Montfort governed England in the king’s name for a year and during this time he called two famous parliaments. The first stripped the king of unlimited authority, the second included ordinary citizens from the towns. Edward however escaped and allied with dissident barons to lead a formidable army determined to bring down Simon de Montfort.
On the night of August 3 1265, Simon de Montfort and his army crossed the River Severn at Kempsey, aided by the Bishop of Worcester’s men, marched past Pershore overnight and stopped for breakfast and morning prayers at the massive Evesham Abbey. It was here that de Montfort’s rebel Barons were caught in the loop of the River Avon – a massive mistake for such an experienced tactical military leader.
The Battle of Evesham Grand Parade, which sees mounted knights in full armour, will gather in the Evesham Abbey churchyard and wind its way through the town on the morning of Saturday 6 August from 10:15 am.
A lookout alerted Simon De Montfort that Edward I and his army were positioned on Greenhill. The site that was part of the battle on Greenhill is privately owned but can be visited using a permissive footpath that leads through the site which is managed by The Simon de Montfort Society. Further information on accessing the battlefield site and a special Battle of Evesham exhibit which reconstructs the battlefield can be found at the Almonry Heritage and Tourist Information Centre.
Simon decided to attack without delay, he rode up Greenhill, proudly displaying his standard – a lone white lion with divided tail.
The terrain clearly favoured Edward I and the Royal Army were heavily advantaged, outnumbering de Montfort’s men three to one. Simon was surrounded and unhorsed by Edward’s men, yet he continued fighting bravely on foot before being killed by one Roger de Mortimer. His body was cruelly dismembered. The dead and wounded lay everywhere.
Robert of Gloucester described it as ‘a murder of Evesham for battle it was none’.
Hundreds of re-enactors will be fighting ‘to the death’ at 4pm on the Saturday and Sunday.
Blood ran through the Abbey church and stained the Monk’s choir. The Abbey and the town were pillaged. In one of the stained-glass windows of All Saints Church, Simon de Montfort and his knights are depicted to be at worship in the Abbey on the morning of the battle of Evesham. Simon’s remains and the bodies of his son Henry and that of Hugh le Despenser were carried away by the monks and buried near the High Altar of the Abbey. The high altar is marked by paving stones in Abbey Park today. A wreath laying ceremony takes place here on the Saturday morning at 10:45 am after the Grand Parade.
You can also join a walk and talk tour led by The Battlefield Trust they will take you on a 90 minute discovery journey to see the buildings and locations important to the Battle of Evesham story. This will start straight after the Grand Parade and wreath laying ceremony at approximately 11:15am and end at the Battle Arena and Royal Camp where you can meet some of the characters you’ve just learnt about. The tour will meet at the Bell Tower (Abbey Park side) and your guide will be there to meet you. No booking is necessary and the tour costs just £5 per adult (Battlefields Trust members free), funds raised go to support the Battle of Evesham festival.
As part of the festival, entrance on Evesham’s Crown Meadow, visitors can watch medieval musicians and dancers at the camp. There will be demonstrations of crafts, medieval cookery, weapons and medicine. In the Battle Arena, there will be equestrian displays, dressing the Knight, archery and there will also be a chance to see a Trebuchet in action. Medieval music and a fashion show will take place in the Royal Camp. Medieval and modern artisan stalls, bars, food outlets will be offering a range of exciting food and drink options and a fun fair will be open all weekend.
Parking for the festival is in Crown Meadow (next to the medieval festival site) and costs just £5 per car for the whole day. Blue Badge holders are not exempt from paying but there is a dedicated area close to the event meadow entrance.
Evesham has so much to offer all steeped in history from beautiful heritage buildings to picturesque river walks to Hampton Ferry where monks once crossed the river by boat. If you are planning to make a weekend of it there are a range of accommodation options available in and around the town.
Check out the Battle of Evesham website for more information on what’s happening across the weekend. Follow the event on Facebook to get involved in the build-up.