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A News sheet of the time, Mercurius Britanicus, April 1645 guest house poole The English Civil War broke out in August 1642 and it soon became apparent that Weymouth, Melcombe Regis and Portland were of great strategic importance owing to their closeness to France and in the case of Portland, the large harbour facilities. Thus, the fate of Weymouth & Melcombe Regis depended on Portland. The majority of the population of most Dorset towns appears to have favoured the parliamentary cause. At the outbreak of the hostilities, Two local gentlemen, Sir Walter Earle and Sir Thomas Trenchard laid claim to Weymouth & Melcombe Regis for the Parliament, which also held Portland, Lyme Regis, Poole and Dorchester at this time.
They set about fortifying and garrisoned the town. The chapel of St. Nicholas at Chapelhay with its commanding views over Melcombe and the inner harbour was immediately commandeered and became "the chapel fort". Another fort was established on the Nothe to protect the bay and the mouth of the harbour. Platforms for artillery were set up in both forts and further earthworks were erected at the northern entrance to Melcombe Regis, with another one a little to the North of the junction of St. Thomas Street and Lower Bond Street extending westwards possibly to the Backwater. Although we know that various drawbridges and town gates were also built, their positions have long been forgotten. Colonel William Sydenham (son in law of Sir John Trenchard of Warmwell) was appointed Governor of the towns of Weymouth & Melcombe Regis. The Governor's residence was on or near the site of Steward's Court in Melcombe Regis, the lane in which this Court was situated is still called Governor's Lane.
Twelve months later, in the summer of 1643, the Earl of Carnarvon had successfully taken Bristol for the King and was now marching on Dorset with 2,000 horse and Dragoon's. His intention to capture the towns of Weymouth, Melcombe and Portland. There were many Parliamentarians in the villages of the area, who had fled in front of the advancing Royalists, spreading stories about the courage of the foe. This demoralised the inhabitants completely and so they decided to surrender the towns and forts without a fight. This was on the understanding that they should not be plundered or the people in any way harmed for supporting the Parliamentary cause, in return it was further agreed they would surrender all arms, ammunition and ordnance. Words were given, terms accepted and the Royalists took possession of the town. Shortly after this Prince Maurice (the King's nephew) arrived with his cavalry who promptly went on the rampage through the twin town's, much to the displeasure of the Earl of Carnarvon who quit his command in protest retired from the field and returned to the King at the siege of Gloucester. In August 1643, Prince Maurice's forces captured A bark (ship), sent by Parliament with ammunition to help their force in Weymouth.
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