The Civil War of the seventeenth century undoubtedly provided Nunney
with its most dramatic episode. Although the quarrel between King
and Parliament inevitably had its political and economic effect
on all the land, it was nevertheless a remote happening to most
villages and hamlets of England. Not so to Nunney: the depth and
seriousness of the conflict was made very real to the village when
in 1645 Fairfax and Cromwell despatched two regiments to Nunney
with orders to subdue the castle and capture the huge store of ammunition
mistakenly reputed to be stored there.
The castle was held for the King by Colonel Prater, and the popular
legend relates how, hoping to deceive the besiegers into believing
that they had an ample supply of fresh pork, the garrison carried
up daily into one of the towers a young pig, the ears and tail of
which they pulled until the squeals of the tormented animal could
be heard by the enemy encamped without. But a deserter revealed
their ruse to Cromwell’s earnest besiegers, and at the same time
indicated the point where the Roundhead cannon should most effectively
In no time a breach was effected, and Colonel Prater, after a brief
parley, not only agreed to surrender, but in an attempt to preserve
his property offered to change his allegiance. This act of treachery
availed him little. Parliament voted that the castle should be ‘slighted’,
thus being rendered ineffective for iy further military purpose.
The interior was destroyed, the roof stripped, and the remainder
of the Colonel’s property was declared forfeit to the Commonwealth.
A cannon ball in the church recalls those troubled times, and musket
balls are still found on Nunney Slate and elsewhere.
The silent towers remained, a crumbling monument for future generations
to contemplate and marvel at.
The castle stands, an empty shell,
Si monumentum. .stranger, look:
These stones regard, and ponder well
The slighted walls by Nunney brook.
In the Beginning Page1
The Last Invasion Page3 Page4