Guest writer CLAIRE DAVY explores the paranormal afterlife of those who fought at the Battle of Naseby in Northamptonshire, nearly 400 years ago during the first English Civil War…
To drive through the peaceful and quintessentially British village of Naseby in Northamptonshire on a summer’s evening is as tranquil an experience as can be imagined.
The sharply triangulated tower of All Saints Church looms over the pretty cottages and leafy lanes and fields of rapeseed are juxtaposed with neatly trimmed gardens and a chocolate box pub.
But Naseby has a very long shadow, a shadow of 376 years in fact. For some of the fields in this rural idyll played host in 1645 to the Battle of Naseby, a key campaign in the course of the English Civil War.
What was the Battle of Naseby?
Though the battle itself only lasted one day, that foggy morning of June 14th heralded the last day on Earth for nearly 1500 men from the Parliamentarians led by Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax and the overwhelmed (and soon to be heavily defeated) Royalists under King Charles 1 and Prince Rupert.
Maybe the seeds were sown for the defeat of the Royalists however, before a pike or quarterstaff was even drawn in anger.
Legend has it that the First Earl Stafford, Sir Thomas Wentworth, beheaded by the parliamentarians in 1641, appeared to King Charles the night before the battle, at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in nearby Daventry and urged him not to engage in battle there but instead to move the confrontation further North, (though the reasons for this advisement aren!t clear).
The King was not to be dissuaded however and the rest is quite literally history. The battle itself was to prove decisive and after crushing defeat, imprisonment and multiple daring escapes, the establishment of a Rump parliament and a stunning show trial, it culminated for the unfortunate Monarch at the business end of an executioners axe in the centre of Whitehall just four years later.
But Naseby was reluctant to let go of its past and played host to the spectres of the bloody skirmish for nearly one hundred years after the event in a spectacular show of residual warfare played out in the cold night skies above the battlefield.
Ghosts of Naseby Anniversary
So constant and abiding was this supernatural phenomena that the villagers attended the site regularly on the anniversary of the battle fully expecting (and often playing witness to) the sight of terrified horses, grievously wounded men and bloodied corpses accompanied by the screams and anguished moans of the dead and dying and the roar of cannon fire.
The dramatic but nebulous re-enactment faded after a century or so but it is said that the ghosts of Naseby still have unfinished business that the end of the battle failed to satiate and it was with that enticement in mind that the Northampton Paranormal Group headed to the site on the anniversary of the battle in 2008.
Wandering around the perimeter of the field and snapping some pictures, the group believed they had caught nothing of any paranormal significance when they returned home.
But upon checking through their pictures from the investigation they were shocked to see the very clear figure of what seemed to be a cavalry soldier striding purposefully across the battlefield.
The photo was soon picked up by the local and then the national and international press and though sceptics somewhat unsurprisingly were quick to attribute the capture to a photographic anomaly, it was generally given a cautious welcome by paranormal experts and historical researchers alike.
There is a certain amount of disagreement on the stance of the alleged apparition, with some including the paranormal investigators who took the picture, claiming it looks like a soldier sitting on a horse while others, including local “ghost detective !and author Adrian Perkins says he believes the image looks “more like a soldier with a musket or pike walking through a gateway!, whatever your opinion it is certainly a compelling image.
And so Naseby remains still and quiet under the Northampton skies until the time rolls round once again for the beleaguered king and his loyal cavalry to re-enact their eternal but ultimately doomed battle. The Northampton Paranormal Group picture taken on 14 June 2008 is shown below.
CLAIRE DAVY lives in Northampton but comes from the remote west of Ireland. She’s been passionate about all things paranormal since she was a child and has a particular fascination for the Chase Vault case in Barbados and visited the haunted tomb for her 40th birthday. She’s a member of Ghost Club, the SPR and ASSAP and has hosted webinars and taken part in paranormal podcasts about all things spooky! You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.