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Insight into history of bloody battle

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The memorial stone at the spot where King Henry VII raised the Royal Standard after the Battle of Stoke Field
The memorial stone at the spot where King Henry VII raised the Royal Standard after the Battle of Stoke Field

A rare opportunity is available to see where a victorious King Henry VII raised the Royal standard when a stately home opens its grounds.

Stoke Hall, East Stoke, is hosting a two-day event to mark the 530th anniversary of one of England’s bloodiest battles.

The Battle of Stoke Field in 1487 was a bitterly-fought conflict that is regarded by historians as the last act in the Wars of the Roses.

It will be commemorated on Saturday and Sunday.

Much of the battlefield is now on private land and usually out of bounds.

The hall owners, Bryan and Diane Ansell, who also operate the Foundry military model-making company, have sought permission from landowners to allow members of the public access.

Tours will be led by medieval historian Mike Ingram, while there will also be combat displays by The Beaufort Companye re-enactment group and a display of 6,000 painted miniature military models, including 300 Wars of the Roses models from Bryan’s private collection, which have never been put on public view before.

Visitors can take part in a wargame and there is a talk on Henry VII’s life by Nathen Amin, author and founder of the Henry Tudor Society.

Although less well-known than the Battle of Bosworth, the Battle of Stoke Field is believed to have been bigger and represented the House of York’s last attempt to wrest back control of England from the king, who was crowned after the Yorkists were defeated by the Lancastrians at Bosworth two years earlier.

This time, 8,000 Yorkists rallied around Lambert Simnel, an imposter they were attempting to pass off as Edward, Earl of Warwick, and claim his right to the throne.

Although their army was larger and boosted by well-armed Irish and German mercenaries, the Yorkists were cut down by Henry’s archers at Stoke Field.

With the battle reaching its end after three hours and their numbers dwindling fast, surviving Yorkists attempted to escape down a gully but were cornered and massacred.

The gully still exists and is known locally as Bloody Gutter or Red Gutter.

As many as 4,000 Yorkists are thought to have been killed.

Henry raised the Royal Standard on a location known as Burham Furlong.

The spot is marked by a memorial on a large stone that reads: “Here stood the Burrand Bush planted on the spot where Henry VII placed his standard after the Battle of Stoke June 16 1487.”

'Exciting and fascinating weekend'

Diane said: “You would not think it now when you stand in Stoke Field, but 530 years ago it would have been soaked in blood after one of the most brutal battles ever to take place in England and one that is regarded as a landmark moment in this country’s history.

“Much of the battlefield, including Burham Furlong itself, is now private land, but visitors will be able to take a guided tour and view the memorial stone, as well as learn more about the soldiers and weaponry used at the time.

“It promises to be an exciting and fascinating weekend for anyone interested in local and national history. We are expecting plenty of visitors from all over the country.”

Virtually all of the leading Yorkists were killed at the battle although Simnel was spared his life and given a job as a serving boy in the king’s kitchen.

Henry went on to rule until his death in 1509 and was succeeded by his son, Henry VIII.

Events take place from 10am to 5pm on both days. Tickets are £5 for general admission and £12 for admission and a battlefield tour.

More details are available at www.wargamesfoundry.com

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