Civil War Axe Discovered on Padworth Common

In the 1950s a young boy of 12 discovered an awe-inspiring 16th Century halberd on Padworth Common near Newbury, the site of a Civil War skirmish between Prince Rupert and the Parliamentary Army; it is now coming up at auction in the Arms, Medals & Militaria Sale at Dreweatts, Bristol on 29th March.

After the defeat of the Royalists by the Roundheads at the First Battle of Newbury in 1643, Prince Rupert and his cavalry surprised the Roundhead Earl of Essex and his Regiment of Foot at Padworth Gulley, where several hundred men are said to have been killed and buried in large pits.

An early record vividly describes what happened: 'The route taken by the Parliamentary troops was by Monkey Lane, Greenham Common, Brimpton and Aldermaston. No sooner had Essex and his men entered the narrow lane between the village and Padworth, than Prince Rupert, who, with column of cavalry and 800 musqueteers had, unperceived, taken up position in his line of march, fell suddenly on the rear-guard, throwing it into considerable disorder. The horse galloped through the Foot, crying panic- struck, 'Away! Away! Every man for his life! You are all dead men!’ But the Foot soon rallied and, spreading themselves along the hedges on either side, poured in such telling volleys on Rupert's wearied cavalry, that after a desperate struggle, in which great courage was shown by both parties, the Royalists, having no force to support them, were compelled to abandon the attack, and fell back, losing (it is said) in this short and murderous affair something like 300 men.’

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that this handsome 16th century axe head should be a relic of this historic skirmish. The halberd has a central spike and forward leaning blade and is pierced with slipped circles. This extraordinary piece of local history has a pre sale estimate of £200-300 and is offered at Dreweatts in Bristol on Tuesday 29th March.

To view the sale catalogue online, please click here.

For further information please contact Malcolm Claridge at Dreweatts’ Bristol Salerooms:

E:, tel: + 44 (0) 117 973 7201, fax: + 44 (0) 117 973 5671,

Dreweatts - 07 March 2011