Battle of Heptonstall
Monday, 7 January 2019
In November 1643, a royalist army travelled the upland road from Halifax through the night and gathered at the river’s edge in Hebden Bridge.
After a successful funding application to Sky Arts in March 2018, local writer and director Michael Crowley set about recruiting a company and developed the play with residents, writing a few scenes each week. With the company around the table at the local bowling club, they read through the developing play.
The script was completed by the middle of September 2018. The play as a whole draws upon a well of local talent in music and performance to provide a showcase for the village and beyond, involving the community in an exploration and celebration of history and heritage.
In Heptonstall, taking up siege positions, were around 750 roundheads led by Colonel Bradshaw. Bradshaw and the roundheads knew the local terrain. As the royalist soldiers and cavalry began the 500ft climb to Heptonstall at dawn, they were met with a cascade of falling rocks followed by the roundheads.
Men were trampled underfoot by panic stricken horses running back down the buttress. The army beat their retreat over the narrow bridge some plunging into the river to escape, only to be swept away by a raging torrent following heavy rain.
In early 2018, the 375th anniversary year of the battle, a voluntary group was formed in the village of Heptonstall to produce a community play about the events.
…for the multitude is so Brutish, that they are ever in the extreames of kindnesse or Cruelty, being void of Reason and hurried on with an unbridled violence in all their Actions, trampling down all respect of things Sacred and Civill… The People becomes a most pernicious Tyrants."
Marchamont Nedham, pamphleteer for Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.
During the play’s development and production, and in conjunction with Hebden Bridge History Society and Calderdale Museums, the producers also hope to inform the wider community about the battle’s significance. There is to be a public lecture on the battle on Monday February 4th at Hebden Bridge Town Hall 7pm. Tickets available here.
Local writer and director Michael Crowley developed the play with residents, writing a few scenes each week then reading them through with the company round the table at the local bowling club. The script was completed by the middle of September 2018. Local composer and arranger Katie Chatburn is the project’s musical director.
As well as drawing upon a well of local talent in music and performance to provide a showcase for the village, the play involves the community in an exploration and celebration of history and heritage.
Battle of Heptonstall: A promotional video by Nick Wilding for a new community play set in Heptonstall during the English Civil War, created by Michael Crowley and The Brutish Multitude.
The play is to be performed from Thursday 28th February - Saturday 2nd March at 7:30 at St Thomas the Apostle Church, Heptonstall HX7 7NT. Tickets £10 via eventbrite.co.uk
Lecture: The Battle of Heptonstall of 1643, a public lecture with Q and A. 7pm. Hebden Bridge Town Hall. £6 through eventbrite.co.uk