Sieges of Brampton and Hopton castles

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‎Sieges of Brampton and Hopton castles
The compilers of Calendar of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Bath (1904) wrote in the introduction that:[1]

The Brampton Bryan Papers serve to supplement the Letters of Lady Brilliana Harley, edited for the Camden Society by T. T. Lewis in 1851, and afford a clear and connected account of her gallant defence of Brampton Castle from its investment, 26 July, 1643, until its relief by Essex, her death early in the following September, and the second siege of the Castle during the winter and spring, the surprise by a party from Brampton (Feb., 1644) of Hopton Castle, the reduction of the latter place and the cold-blooded massacre of its garrison (March), and the subsequent reduction of Brampton Castle. These transactions were certainly of no great importance, the forces engaged being on both sides inconsiderable, and the losses, apart from the massacre, insignificant — indeed, the Brampton garrison would seem to have been almost as much distressed by the "rotten language" of the Cavaliers as by their "poisoned bullets," and from first to last lost only four men, notwithstanding that they had defended a breach for some days, before, despairing of relief, they surrendered 17 Ap., 1644). The Cavaliers are said to have lost five hundred and fifty men in the three sieges, but this figure cannot be accepted without reserve, the details of the three narratives being such as hardly accord with sober history. The defenders throughout appear as mighty men of valour, who, when they come to close quarters with the enemy, do deadly execution upon them or strike them with "panic fear," while the besiegers have little stomach save for plundering. The correspondence, however, shows pretty plainly that the slackness with which the first siege was prosecuted arose mainly from reluctance to press "the honourable and valiant lady" hard. These papers, however, will doubtless prove a welcome addition to the particular history of a struggle, the interest in which is apparently inexhaustible.

On page 40 the compilers of Calendar of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Bath (1904) note that all the letters and papers presented in their collection and displayed in this Wikisource archive Sieges of Brampton and Hopton castles "are taken from modern copies bound up in Vol. XXIII. of the 'Portland Papers' at Longleat".

The sieges of Brampton Castle and Hopton Castle are intertwined. Hopton Castle was garrisoned by soldiers seconded from Brampton Castle as an outlying redoubt to prevent its use as a base by the investing forces. During the English Civil War this tactic was also used in other places where houses of sympathisers (which were close to a major fortification, or on an important line of communication), that were suitable for fortification were fortified and garrisoned (see for example Shelford Manor which provided a similar service for Newark and suffered a similar fate to Hopton Castle as a prelude to the last Siege of Newark).[2]


  1. Historical Manuscripts Commission (1904). Calendar of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Bath, Preserved at Longleat, Wiltshire 1. His Majesty's Stationery Office. p. vi, vii. 
  2. Brown, Cornelius (1907). History of Newark-on-Trent; being the life story of an ancient town: From the reign of Edward IV to that of Edward VII 2. Newark: Whiles. p. 95.