Report July 2015

Report on Radway village walk 17th July 2015
Radway has just opened its Civil War exhibition and information centre in the parish church – the Edgehill Battlefield Hub – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with support from local people and the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry. On a fine evening Kineton and District Local History Group members were treated to a preview of the Hub plus a guided walk around the village led by Rachel Mander, one of the prime movers of the project. Two more of the project’s organisers, David Beaumont and Brian Douthwaite, were on hand in the church to introduce the exhibits. They pointed out that since the disappearance of the exhibition at the Farnborough Hall outhouses many years ago, there has been no local focus for visitors to the area with an interest in the first major battle of the Civil War in 1642. The Hub is a splendid remedy for that gap.
Edgehill battle was fought on the open fields between Radway and Kineton, now occupied by the MoD depot, where recent work under the direction of the Battlefields Trust has clarified some of the battle dispositions. In the church are finds from the battlefield and displays of what the local villagers would be wearing and accounts of their experiences, brought to life by video interviews with soldiers voiced by actors. There are several manikins dressed in handmade clothes in the style of the 17th century, including an effigy of Captain Kingsmill, killed in the battle, whose monument lies a few feet from his life-size counterpart. Replica flintlock pistols were brandished producing an impressive spark, but no bang!
Rachel Mander led the village walk, pointing out the Grange, the 18th century home of Sanderson Miller, the gentleman architect who built what is now the Castle Inn. Rachel described how his landscaping of the slope up to it predate the designs of Lancelot “Capability” Brown. The empty site of the old church and churchyard is now surrounded by grave slabs bordering the public footpath, but it still contains the Miller tomb. The old cart wash still exists, where carts were stood to swell the wood of the wheels to keep the iron rims attached, although it is now drained to avoid local flooding. We learnt much more about the inhabitants and history of the area, and several innovative roadside wind-up information points allow visitors to access detailed historical information as they walk through the village.
The group made their way to the Radway Institute, formerly a school and now the refurbished village hall, to teas, coffees and cakes provided by Isobel Gill, where the organisers of the event were congratulated on a successful outing. The Edgehill Battlefield Hub is recommended to all who wish to learn more about how this quiet village was once the centre of a murderous conflict, affecting not just the local inhabitants but the whole nation.
The next Group meeting is at 7.30 on Friday September 18th at Kineton Village Hall, when Dr Ruth Barbour from the University of Warwick will talk on “Brailes: an 18th century hotspot”. Visitors are welcome, £2.00 at the door, includes refreshments after the talk.
DF 27.07.2015