Wallingford’s Key Role
Wallingford played an important part in the war between Charles I and his supporters (Royalists or Cavaliers) and Oliver Cromwell and his supporters (Parliamentarians or Roundheads).
A Royalist Garrison
After Charles I had raised his standard as a call to arms against Parliament Wallingford became a garrison for Royalist troops, with Colonel Thomas Blagge’s foot regiment and Lord Digby’s horse regiment stationed here. The Wallingford troops were involved in many local skirmishes. Charles visited Wallingford several times during the war, and once struck Blagge about the head for not providing enough soldiers. On another occasion the Queen and Prince Rupert were Godparents at the christening of one of Blagge’s children. Later, Parliamentarians came to Wallingford believing the king to be there, and were received somewhat brusquely by Blagge, who told them he’d left for Oxford.
To protect the town, part of the stone bridge across the Thames was replaced with a wooden drawbridge. St Leonard’s church, used as a troop garrison, was badly damaged during the war, and two other churches, All Hallows and St Peter’s, were destroyed.
Siege and Surrender
As the Parliamentarian New Model Army began to win the war, many Royalist strongholds surrendered, but Blagge refused to surrender Wallingford Castle without Charles’s agreement. After a siege of 12 weeks, Sir Thomas Fairfax managed to persuade Blagge to surrender.
After the War
Cromwell ordered the destruction of the castle, and the remains were used around the town, including the building of the tower of St Mary-le-More church.