The Battle of Grendon took place in Grendon, Northamptonshire on Wednesday, July 26, 1876. It was in effect a turf war over water rights. The event was commemorated at the time by an unknown local poet.
Ye martial gods of ancient date
Grant me assistance to relate
A battle, such as ne'er before,
Was witnessed in the days of yore.
'Twas on a summer's eve there stood,
Upon a bridge that crossed a flood,
Dark Groups of wild mysterious forms
Like thunder clouds portending storms,
With gloomy looks and frowning brows
They muttered forth revengeful vows.
Ill omens these, for on that night
Was brewing a disastrous fight.
In this now famous Grendon Brook
Moonrakers used for cheese to look.
Now this is how the war arose
Which lead to such disastrous blows.
A certain person nursed a spite
Against his neighbour surnamed Wright,
And feeling wronged he vowed that day
That he would conquer in the fray.
The brook was blocked and that was why
He would the dam forthwith destroy.
So with his men the following morn
He took his way at early dawn.
But there was placed to guard the post
A rather formidable host,
Who sat at ease and feared no foe,
But thought it was a merry go.
They smiled, and did themselves regale
With sundry pints of good old ale.
Soon as they saw the foe appear
They gave a hearty ringing cheer.
Some words of warning they addressed,
But all in vain, for onward pressed
John Spencer, who with shouts replied,
Goliath-like, he all defied.
Then leaping forward with his axe
He on the dam made fierce attacks,
But little thought how sad a fate
Did on his first attempt await.
Wright's men dashed o'er, the warrior took
And hurled him headlong in the brook,
Then as he struggling gained the shore,
They seized and soused him in once more.
(I should not wonder if he swore!)
But Spencer is a man of pluck,
And did not relish such a duck.
He sraightway seized his trusty spud,
And gave to one a heavy thud.
At once the battle fiercely raged,
And every man was now engaged,
Strong villagers of humble name,
Though valiant men, unknown to fame.
Brave Ward, and Bates and Eden bold,
And many other young and old.
Joe Eden dashing to the fray
Did many a Spencer's man dismay.
With brawny shoulders to the fore
He crashed his victims to the floor.
Both sides did make a gallant stand,
And fought with all that came to hand.
With crowbar or with wooden stake,
Axe, spade and murd'rous iron rake.
And now 'twas Eden turned the tide,
Come, battle on, Joe Spencer cried.
But with a rage beyond belief,
Joe Eden smashed in Spencer's teeth
Rage seemed to animate each soul,
Their passions were beyond control.
So fiercely fought these warriors bold,
That much they did remains untold
It was indeed a mighty fray,
So furiously they hacked away.
Young Shadrach seized a well-worn spade
And hastened to his father's aid,
But on his head there came a thwack,
That laid him prostrate on his back.
"My son is killed" John Spencer cried.
"And serves him right" one soon replied.
But as the youngster never stirred,
They sent forthwith for Dr Bird.
To Bozeat, too, sent some besides,
(An army surgeon there resides).
These active doctors did their best,
And on the field the victims dressed.
The battle ceased, for with alarm,
Each saw that he had done much harm.
The news spread fast o'er hills and dales,
And even reached to distant Wales.
Police arrived in great dismay,
And viewed the carnage of the day.
Each one looked blue, and shook his head,
For blood had been most freely shed.
And then to show they were displeased,
They every mortal weapon seized.
Each warrior now the fight was o'er,
Limped off in haste, downcast and sore.
Yes, many a one shall long bewail,
The subject of this tragic tale.