Hampshire siege mansion to become shrine to bloody Civil War remnants

By Culture24 Staff
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A picture of a painting of a 17th century town under attack

(Above) Mike Codd's painting, The Fall of Basing House, depicts the ransacking of the mansion in October 1645. The site will be turned into a permanent museum after a new Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Picture courtesy Hampshire County Council.

A Basingstoke mansion, which was the largest private home in England in the 17th century before being destroyed in a bloody gun siege by Oliver Cromwell, will become a permanent museum in a multi-million pound development.

Basing House has been given a further £50,000 towards the exhibition in The Lodge, showcasing relics found in archaeological investigations around the site including clay pipes, a decorated ivory cup from West Africa, pistol shot fragments and hefty cannonballs.

It follows a grant of more than £1 million from the HLF towards the re-launch of the grounds as Basing House History Park last December, a project aiming to bring the House’s tumultuous Tudor and Stuart past to life.

A picture of a silver sixpence

A Charles I sixpence discovered during an archaeological dig at Basing House which will feature in the museum displays. Picture courtesy Hampshire County Council

“The grant from the HLF provides an opportunity to put many more of the finds on display to help tell the story of this fascinating site,” said Alastair Penfold, Head of Service at Hampshire County Museums and Archives Service, praising the generosity of local group the Friends of Basing House.

Head of HLF South East England Michelle Davies added that the scheme would help visitors to gain “a much clearer understanding” of the “scale and importance of this once-great house.”

The news is overdue relief for a building which has suffered repeated attacks. A Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, Basing House had survived two sieges by August 1645, when Cromwell himself took charge in an onslaught which killed more than 100 defenders. Parliament later ordered the ruins of the burnt and ransacked House to be razed to the ground.

  • The HLF has also announced a £15,000 award for communities in the North East to collect folk songs and stories about their heritage.

The targeted regions, between Barrow-in-Furness on the West Coast and Hartlepool on the opposite side, are known as a migration route, chronicled by local musicians and raconteurs.

Children and young people are being encouraged to collect tunes and memories for performances alongside newly-created ballads for each group.

“This is an exciting and ambitious project for everyone involved, giving people the chance to connect with their local heritage in an interesting and dynamic way,” announced Jo Buckley, of organisers Changeling Productions. “Many of these songs and stories have until now only been passed along by word of mouth.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North-East, said it would create a “special bond” between participants. “By taking part in workshops and performances, the group will be able to reach new audiences,” he added.

Local authorities including the Bowes Museum and Durham County Council have also vowed to store the “valuable insights” for future generations.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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