The Dame
The Prince

aka How Joan Sent 'Em Packing

aka The Siege Of Caldecote Hall

Originally posted on Twitter on the Thursday 16th May 2019.
Images via @britishlibrary's Flickr collection
and the Cigarette Cards Collection over at @nypl Digital.

A map of the area around Caldecote.

Caldecote is a small village on the banks of the Anker north of Nuneaton.

(Apropos of nothing, it was also a house name at one of my schools.)

The existing Hall was built in 1880 but an older manor house was once the home of the Purefoy family.

Colonel William Purefoy was a Puritan and parliamentarian in the C17th. He represented Coventry and/or Warwick in parliaments throughout the turbulent period between 1628 and 1659 (that's the Short one, the Long one, the Barebones one and all three of the Protectorates).

Purefoy was very active on the Roundhead side: fighting in the defence of Warwick castle, stirring up trouble for the King and commanding Parliamentary forces against Booth's uprising...

A cigarette card depicting an officer of Cromwell's army.

...but his greatest achievement was to marry Joan, Warrior Dame, who was one of the many brave ladies (and Ladies) to stick it to the enemy (both of them) during the English Civil War of 1642-1651.

So, it's August 1642 and Purefoy is recruiting for the cause while Sir Edward Peto is preparing for the imminent siege of Warwick Castle by Prince Rupert and his men (later described as falling on Birmingham "like so many furies of Bedlams" so clearly they were nice boys).

A woodcut of Prince Rupert sacking Birmingham.

On the 28th George decided to ride home for Sunday lunch with the family. Unfortunately, Rupert and his officers were supping ale in a tavern on the Watling Street and caught wind of Purefoy's movements. They mounted up and rode for Caldecote.

The sexton of Caldecote church was up the tower either a) keeping a watchful eye out or b) sunning himself. If b) then the ultra Puritan vicar Richard Vines gave him an earful before hearing him out when he came running down with bad news: he'd spotted Ru's men approaching

A cigarette card depicting a Royalist Officer.

The Colonel was bundled into the pre-prepared hiding place in the hop garden while his missus and son-in-law took command.

Dolly the cook was ordered to fire up the stove and all the pewter in the place was melted down for shot. Other servants were taught to load muskets.

A clatter of hooves and Ru & co rode up. Four officers were sent to knock at the Great Door and demand entrance. Joan answered, musket hidden behind her frock, and told them to bugger off (though presumably in a more ladylike manner).

When one of the Officers tried to force his way in, Joan filled him with pewter and slammed the door in their faces.

Son-in-law George Abbott (the Sunday Sabbatarianist aka The Puritan) set up a defence of the courtyard with four men and held back the first wave of attack.

A caricature of a Puritan.

Joan, Abbott, eight men, one cook and a handful of maids held out for two more attacks, despite the Hall's outer buildings being set alight, but eventually Joan called it a day on the proviso that her household be spared punishment.

Ru & co were amazed (and probably a bit embarrassed) that such a small force had held them at bay and Ru personally congratulated Joan for her part. He offered Abbott a commission but got a decided no.

Then he had the Hall searched but they couldn't find the Colonel, who only climbed out of his hidey-hole when Ru & co were well out of the way.

He survived the Civil War and was one of the signatories of Chuck One's death warrant. Though when he died in 1659 that cost his daughters the estate; Chuck Two had it confiscated.

A sketch of a manor house.

The original manor house survived for a while and the shot-scarred door was moved to the church where you'll find an alabaster monument to...

Abbott for his part in the victory.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!