The Battle of Coleford

Coleford played a significant part in the conduct of the English Civil Wars. The Battle of Coleford, which took place on 20th February 1643, is commemorated by a memorial plaque laid by The Sealed Knot in the Market Place in 2010.

Early in 1643 the Welsh Royalists raised an army of some 2,000 soldiers to support King Charles I and invaded the strongly Parliamentarian Forest of Dean. Their objective was Gloucester but first they were to eliminate Colonel John Berrow’s embryonic Parliamentarian regiment being raised in the Forest of Dean.

Approaching from Monmouth, the attack on Coleford (the population at the time being around 500) was led by dragoons commanded by Colonel John Lawley. The Royalists encountered rough barricades in the streets and were fired on by soldiers deployed in the houses.

Troops on both sides were untried amateurs and overall casualties were low. The local foresters were, however, good shots and Lawley and his two most senior experienced officers were killed in the action.

Eventually the greatly outnumbered defenders were driven from the town and fled into the forest. The Royalists’ short-lived “Mushroom Army”, as it became known, was destroyed one month later at Highnam.

Each year members of The Sealed Knot return to Coleford to hold a memorial parade in the Market Place on the Saturday closest to the anniversary. They have also in the past held a reenactment of the battle in neighbouring fields.