In November 1643 eight hundred Royalist cavalry and foot soldiers led by Sir
Francis Mackworth attempted to seize the small West Riding town of
Heptonstall from the occupying Parliamentary forces. Although they were
driven back after a bloody night battle, several weeks later the Royalists
returned in greater numbers, sacking the town, burning the houses and taking
the livestock. The wool trade was destroyed for a generation. Plague followed.
A few years ago, Michael Crowley turned the story of this small, bloody battle in the English Civil War into a community play. The Battle of Heptonstall
takes some of the characters from the play – real and imagined – and lets them tell their own version of events. It is an examination of ideology, class and Englishness, from the Putney Debates to Brexit, a book about propaganda and division, authority and dissent, reaction and resistance, then and now.