Hundreds of people are expected to attend a series of events taking place in Nottinghamshire this weekend to mark the last forgotten battle of the War of the Roses.
The visitors will be taken on battlefield tours, watching re-enactment displays and viewing an exhibition of thousands of miniature soldiers during the event, which is being held at Stoke Hall, in East Stoke, near Newark on Saturday and Sunday (June 16&17).
The hall is situated close to Nottinghamshire’s only officially recognised battlefield, Stoke Field, which is now on private land but which played host to a battle involving around 20,000 men from the Houses of Lancaster and York in June 1487.
Although it took place two years after the more famous Battle of Bosworth, Stoke Field is regarded by historians as the place the House of York’s challenge to the English throne ended once and for all.
The battle saw around 8,000 Yorkists, who were rallying around Lambert Simnel, an imposter they were attempting to pass off as Edward, Earl of Warwick, engaging Henry VII’s 12,000-strong army.
The Yorkists, who were led by the Earl of Lincoln and boosted by the presence of Irish, Swiss and German mercenaries, engaged first, but were cut down mercilessly by Henry’s archers. Their numbers dwindled fast over the next three hours until they ran for their lives and were cut down in swathes.
Around an estimated 7,000 men died, including the Earl of Lincoln, whose body was never found. Henry later claimed victory by raising his standard at a spot called Burham Furlong, which is now marked by a commemorative stone.
Diane Ansell, who owns Stoke Hall, has organised the commemorative event for the past three years and is passionate about spreading the news about the events which took place virtually on her doorstep 531 years ago.
This time the event is being boosted by the installation of five interpretation boards in and around East Stoke, which have been provided through a partnership between Nottinghamshire County Council and the Battlefields Trust and will be unveiled on Saturday morning.
The Trust will have a stall at the event, while the Beaufort Companye will be staging the enactments and talking about life as a soldier during the War of the Roses.
Medieval historian Mike Ingram will also be taking visitors on regular tours to the battlefield – including to the spot where Henry VII later raised his standard - while historian Nathen Amin, author of the book House of Beaufort, will be giving talks on Henry’s invasion, his coronation and the Battle of Bosworth.
The Foundry, a wargames figures manufacturers which is based at Stoke Hall, will also have thousands of highly detailed miniature military figures, from the War of the Roses and other periods of history, on display.
Diane, who runs the company with her husband, Bryan, and their family, said: “Although it’s not as well-known as the Battle of Bosworth, there is immense interest in the Battle of Stoke Field and last year’s commemorative event was extremely well attended.
“We have already had plenty of interest in this year’s event from people all over the country and we would expect to see more visitors who have been drawn to the area by the interpretation boards.
“This part of Nottinghamshire is beautiful and very peaceful, which is why it’s incredible to think that such a tumultuous event, which could have changed the history of England, took place here.”
Kevin Winter, chairman of the Battlefields Trust East Midlands, said: “Things would have been very different for England if the Yorkists had won the Battle of East Stoke, but it ended very badly for them, especially their Irish mercenaries, who it is said were shot through with arrows like hedgehogs because they weren’t wearing armour.
“The battlefield is on private land and there is nothing else in the village to show visitors that such a major event took place there, so the new interpretation boards and Stoke Hall’s annual commemoration event will help us enormously in our efforts to address that.”
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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