Brindle Church & the Civil War: A Watchtower

Brindle is a pretty Lancashire village. Its lanes are narrow, its church is pretty and its pub is quaint. In 1651, it was where Colonel Robert Lilburn camped on 23 August, where 'they put their horses to grass in those low meadows between the church and Preston’. Stationed there until confirmation of the royalist Earl of Derby’s plans were known, they tarried at Brindle. The men were quartered in the church, the horses in the meadow below.

In the meantime, local Royalists, 'they being all enemies thereabouts,' sent word to Preston, and ‘a bold attempt was made to capture the horses’. Lilburne's men drove off the attack, 'the young men' being 'soundly paid home for their forwardness. None escaped but either slain or taken, save one called Newsham, who forsaking his horse fled into a thick oller tree and there hid himself in the leaves thereof and at night went away.’ Poor Newsham.

There then seems to have been a second attack, as described by Lilburn himself:

"A party of the enemy's horse fell smartly amongst us, where our horse was grazing, and for some space put us pretty hard to it: but at the last it pleased the Lord to strengthen us, that we put them to the flight, and pursued them to Ribble bridge (this was something like our business at Mussleburg) and killed and took about thirty prisoners."

So, large meadows in which were kept a thousand or so horses. Local men who knew the area failed twice to attack the camp and steal them. Why? Lillburn’s men kept watch atop the church tower. The views it afforded covered a 360-degree radius; no enemy could approach without being spotted. Lillburn’s men therefore had time to prepare their defence and meet their assailants armed and ready.

Isaiah 21 urges:

5 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

We Christians are called to two things until Christ returns: to be faithful and to watch. Our chapel might not have a tower, but we may still observe the times that we might not be taken unawares.