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Battle of Maidstone civil war memorial planned for Brenchley Gardens

By Claire McWethy

On a storm-lashed night more than 360 years ago Maidstone was the scene of one of the defining battles of the Civil War.

Royalist rebels attempted to defend the town against 8,000 Parliamentarians in a bloody clash, and eventually surrendered in the grounds of St Faith’s Church.

But there has never been anything in the town to mark this bit of history - until now.

The Parliamentarians break through the Royalists barricade at the top of Gabriels Hill during the re-enactment of the Battle of Maidstone in 2008. Picture John Wardley

The council plans to commission a memorial to mark the spot where Royalist defenders made their last stand on June 1, 1648, acting as a tribute to all those who lost their lives.

It will cost £7,000 and be sited in Brenchey Gardens.

The Stone Shop in East Farleigh will create the black granite plaque, which will include an inscription of lines from The Grasshopper by Richard Lovelace and an etching of a scene from the battle.

Independent borough councillor Gordon Newton, who owns the shop, said: “This was one of the most ferocious battles of the Civil War. A lot of the rich heritage of Maidstone has gone unacknowleged for quite some time and it is good that this even has been put back into the public recollection, and into that of future generations.

Councillor Gordon Newton

“I’m proud of being involved.”

He added: “It will be sympathetic to the surrounding buildings, using heritage bricks and Kentish ragstone.”

It comes after members of the Sealed Knot re-enacted the battle in the town centre to mark its 360th anniversary, in 2008.

The memorial, which will have a tiled roof on top of it, will be mounted onto a ragstone and brick plinth and be just over a metre tall.

Mr Newton’s previous commissions include tribute pieces to murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence and to mark The Battle of Britain in Capel-le-Ferne, near Dover.

Liberal Democrat councillor Tony Harwood has been a long-standing campaigner for the memorial.

He said: "The Battle of Maidstone, and the wider Kentish rebellion, was an especially significant historic event as it was a causal factor in a King losing his head, and had long-term consequences for Maidstone itself, including losing one of our then two MPs as a punishment for supporting the insurrection against Parliament's harsh puritan rule."

The council will now have to seek planning permission before work can start.

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