Civil War Ghosts in Froggledown Lane, Yarnton
6 June 2021 (Updated 29 November 2022)
Frogwelldown (or Froggledown) Lane is the name given to a route leading from Yarnton to Long Hanborough. Although little more than a footpath today, many centuries ago it was one of the main routes west out of Oxford, leading as it did to the bridge at Hanborough which provided one of the few safe routes across the River Evenlode.
Wartime Woes for King Charles
In June 1644 the Civil War was not going well for King Charles. Charles had been using Oxford as a base for some time, but by June the Parliamentary forces were slowly encircling Oxford and King Charles was faced with the unappealing choice of either moving his army out of Oxford to meet the Parliamentary forces in battle or bedding down in Oxford for a siege that he was frankly ill-prepared for.
King Charles opted for a third option: fleeing. On the night of 3 June 1644 King Charles left Oxford under cover of darkness, accompanied by his army of nearly 6000 men. They travelled northwest across Port Meadow, past Wolvercote and on to Yarnton where they took Froggledown Lane across the fields to the bridge at Hanborough.
The ruse worked. Although the whole army had secretly passed within a few miles of the Parliamentary forces, it wasn't until the afternoon of 4 June that the Parliamentary forces realised the King and his army had left Oxford. By that time the fleeing Royalist army had already passed Burford and was well on their way to regrouping with other Royalist forces at Evesham and Worcester.
A ghostly procession
It is said that every year on the night of the 3 June the sounds that accompanied the army's flight can be heard in Froggledown lane: the stamping of thousands of boots, the thud of hooves and the rattling of the harnesses of thousands of horses, and the muttering of the soldiers as they pass along the lane.
- 'Folklore of Oxfordshire' by Christine Bloxham (Tempus Publishing, 2005, ISBN: 9780752436647)
- Spring 1644 - Military manoeuvres (civilwaroxford.co.uk)
- Grandmother Tales (yarnton-village.org.uk)