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  • Haydn Wheeler

Clubmen, Grovely Wood, "they will not suffer them to fight, but make them drink together",

Grovely Wood in far distance as seen from A36, Scene of Clubmen meeting 1645

Ebsbury Hill, incorporating Grovely Castle

General Fairfax's account of the Clubmen while he was stationed in Blandford talks of them wearing the white ribbon. He relates how when the two sides of the armies meet they "The Clubmen," are in great number as at Salisbury, "they will cease them to fight but to make them drink together, in his words they will not suffer them to fight, but make them drink together",

Grovely Wood and the ancient path that runs through it, was also part of Charles II's route included in The Monarch's Way a 615-mile (990 km) long-distance footpath in England that approximates the escape route taken by King Charles II in 1651.

A strong case for where the gathering of Clubmen at Grovely took place is at the ancient hill fort (Ebsbury Hill) looking over Salisbury Plain. This would be in keeping with Clubmen meeting at ancient sites.

The Hill Fort at Grovely. Ebsbury Hill and incorporating Grovely Castle.

Grovely Castle (below) is another place of a probable Clubmen gathering, as mentioned in Christopher Dale's deposition, the man captured near Salisbury by the Parliamentarian Army.

Grovley Castle overlooks Little Langford, not to mixed up with the Royalist garrison Langford near Salisbury during the English Revolution.

As mentioned earlier with the letter to Parliament by General Fairfax, the garrison at Langford and the parliamentarian garrison nearby at Faulston were drinking together due to Clubmen persuasion .

Grovely Castle near Liittle Langford.

Christopher Dale's deposition to Mr John Miles judge advocate to the parliamentarian army talks of The Clubmen and him being a member of. The gathering at Grovely as also Stonehenge and Warminster is told in a deposition giving by him to the Parliamentarian Army. July 2nd 1645.

Grovely Wood in Wiltshire with its Roman Road running through the centre also has a history not only associated with the Clubmen but of the macabre.

A scene of murder embedded in folklore of a morbid story involving 4 sisters going by the name Handsel is kept in mind when wandering through these ancient woods.

Below is one of the Handsel sisters' trees;

The sisters were bludgeoned to death in Grovely Woods because they were suspected of practicing Witchcraft and bringing smallpox to the village of Wilton in 1737. Each sister four in all is said to have a Beech tree growing above where she rests, as a reminder to the mob that murdered them.

Sheila, in front of one of the Handsel's sisters trees.

"Christopher Dale's deposition" of July 2nd 1645

"That when he was taken yesterday at Salisbury town's end, by a soldier of this army, upon suspicion of being a spy, he was then returning home to Salisbury from Wincanton, together with some butchers of that town, with whom he went before to Wincanton, to recover his mare, which was taken away by Wincanton Club-men; and accordingly he had his mare restored to him at Wincanton, and was then bringing her home to Salisbury. He denies that he came purposely to view the army, or went out of his way between Wincanton and Salisbury to view the same; but that while he was on his journey, the army marched his way; and he kept on his way through the army, making no stay to observe it. He acknowledged that he bore arms for the King, and served as a Quarter-master under Colonel Bampfeild, of the enemy's party: But he laid down his arms about three quarters of a year ago, and has never since served on either side. But he further said, That of late he has associated himself with those that call themselves "The Club-men of Salisbury;" that he knows no other end of that association, but to defend themselves and their goods against all plunderers, but not to oppose either army; that, for the Town of Salisbury, there are chosen fifteen men, four out of every parish, to be their leaders, to guide and direct them; as namely, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Oniatt, Mr. Edmond's, and Mr. Greene, for St. Thomas Parish; Mr. Jay, Mr. Hancock Brewer, Mr. Lawes, and Mr. Choles Senior, for St. Edmond's Parish; Doctor Hales Physician, Mr. Batt, Mr. Payne, and Mr. Bee, for St. Martin's Parish; Mr. Thorpe, Mr. Thackeell, Mr. Choles Junior, and for Fisherton Parish; and Mr. Holles is Chief over all. He conceives that in Salisbury there are about seven hundred Club-men, which have at several times appeared; but he conceives that there are more that are associated: That he believed the town is able to furnish these Club-men with arms, some with pikes and muskets, and others with carbines and pistols; but he thinks there are not above two hundred muskets in all: That there is the like association of Club-men all over the County of Wilts; and that divers gentlemen in their several parishes do appear to conduct; but he can certainly name none, but Mr. Justice Bennett, Mr. Gold of Ashton, and Mr. Edward Topp: That they have met at several rendezvous and that he was present at one rendezvous at Grovely, where met the Club-men of Salisbury with some other Club-men of part of the county; and at that time there appeared about four thousand, as was generally said and believed; and besides this rendezvous, there were kept other rendezvouses for other parts of the county; by Warminster, Stonehenge, White Parish, and Uphaven; but what numbers there met at those rendezvouses he knows not: That, at the rendezvous where he met at Grovely, there were certain articles read and proposed to them, which they all assented to by giving a shout; but what the effect of those articles were, more than to defend themselves against plunderers, he cannot tell; but it was then said, they were to be sent to King and Parliament, to see how they would like them; and two or three days after, some of the garrisons of Foresley and Longford met at Salisbury with the Club-men, upon the invitations of the Club-men, when and where the said articles were again proposed, as he had been informed; and that there upon, in conclusion, it was agreed that the Club-men should give fifty pounds a week to each garrison, until the King and Parliament had given an answer to their articles.

Christopher Dale 2 July 1645.

Christopher's Dale deposition of July is a record on the Clubmen activity of June the 13th 1645. A warrant from the Clubmen to raise money and pay a weekly allowance to the garrisons of Faulstone and Longford was proposed. The Clubmen of Wiltshire and Dorset met the leaders belonging to the garrisons of King and Parliament in New Sarum

"Upon Notice whereof, divers Gentlemen and Inhabitants of the said Division did meet, with the Commanders of the several Garrisons, at Sarum, the 13th of this Instant June, and there did conclude upon certain Articles, both for the Peace and Safety of the County, and the Subsistence and Maintenance of the Two Garrisons"

The maintenance of the said garrisons was to be paid for, a sum of £50.00 to each garrison a week.

These terms were agreed in wait of articles sent to the King and Parliament, in the form of a petition titled.

"The Humble Application of your most Loyal and Obedient Subjects, The Distressed Protestants Inhabiting The Counties of Dorset And Wilts"

The petition is very much in the form and wishes as the "Desires and Resolutions" petition wrote in May by the Clubmen of Dorset and Wilts. .

A stop to hostilities was to be honored by King and Parliament and again a point made with emphasis on.

"the people of these counties more then any other of this Kingdom tasting the miseries of this unnatural intestine war

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