The last pitched battle on English soil was fought at Westonzoyland on the Somerset Levels and Moors. The Battle of Sedgemoor was the catastrophic final act of the doomed Monmouth Rebellion, the attempt by the Protestant Duke of Monmouth, the eldest illegitimate son of King Charles II, to raise the country against the Catholic King James II.
Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis on 11th June 1685, aiming to raise an army in the (largely Protestant) West Country. The rebellion attracted a good deal of support, and Monmouth crossed Somerset, including making his headquarters briefly at the historic George Inn at Norton St Philip.
With his ill-equipped and largely untrained soldiers, he faced the King’s army at Sedgemoor on 6th July. The defeat was followed by what came to be known as the Bloody Assizes, conducted by the notorious Judge Jeffreys. Across the region, from Taunton to Norton St Philip, the rebels were hunted down, put on trial and most were subject to the horrible traitor’s death – to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Monmouth himself was beheaded on 15th July in London.
Among those were six “martyrs” who were executed as traitors at Wincanton – Thomas Bowden of Bampton, Richard Harvey, Hugh Holland of South Petherton, William Holland of South Petherton, John Howell of Rode and John Tucker of Allington.
Image: The Morning of Sedgemoor, oil painting on canvas by Edgar Bundy, 1905, Tate Britain. By Wmpearl – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19765014