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Blue plaque marks Civil War surrender
Buy this photo Prof Roger Crisp with the blue plaque on his home
SURRENDERS and defeats aren’t usually celebrated, but Oxford’s most crucial military loss has been marked with a blue plaque.
When King Charles I was expelled from London by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War he moved his court to Oxford in 1642 and made the city his capital.
As the city was being besieged by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, his supporter Unton Croke made his house available to General Fairfax as his base.
It was from this house in Mill Lane that the siege of Oxford was planned and the city’s surrender was negotiated.
And now the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board has marked the turning point so this forgotten piece of the city’s history is always remembered.
Oxford philosophy professor Roger Crisp, who now lives in the house, said: “We are very pleased with the plaque.
“One thing that has happened is that the house is called Cromwell’s House so a lot of people think it belonged to him or that he lived there.
“The truth is that he didn’t but he probably did visit during the Civil War.
“The plaque explains the most important thing that happened there which came towards the end of the war so it was quite an important period.
“The house has changed a lot since then and nobody knows where in the house they would have held the talks.”
Charlie Haynes, the chairman of Old Marston Parish Council, said: “I am very pleased that this house, which played a significant part in the village’s history, has a plaque.
“It is excellent for the village and I think it speaks volumes for the history of Old Marston that we have two blue plaques.”
The other blue plaque in Old Marston is in Oxford Road, for Norman Heatley, a biochemist who helped develop penicillin. The new one is the 39th to be put up in the city itself.
Oxford University was a supporter of the Royalist cause, and King Charles put up at Christ Church.
This meant the city was besieged three times between 1644 and 1646.
In 1646 the Privy Council instructed Sir Thomas Glenham, the Governor of Oxford, to negotiate with Fairfax.
Each side appointed 13 commissioners for the talks, which ran during May and June in Old Marston before terms were agreed.
The Articles of Surrender were signed at Christ Church on June 20.
Dr Andrew Lacey, who runs a course on the Civil War for Oxford University’s department of continuing education, said: “The surrender brought to an end the first period of fighting so it was a very significant event. The fall of Oxford is really when the Parliamentarians are on the offensive and it is very hard for the Royalists to regroup.”
Eda Forbes, of the Oxfordshire Blue Plaque Board, said: “It is a very significant event in Oxford’s history and in Civil War history.
“Oxford was saved from potential devastation so what was thrashed out in the house was very important.”