Town Mayor, Councillor David Marren, has opened the new Cheshire Civil War Centre gallery at Nantwich Museum, which replaces the existing display. Speaking at the opening event he said: “Although the Civil War produced a military dictator in the form of Cromwell and ultimately led to the restoration of the Stuart monarchy, it did create the foundation for a new kind of monarchy which was quite different from the “absolute” monarchies which dominated the rest of Europe.
Today’s exhibition tells how Nantwich played its part, and how its people were affected by the conflict and the hardships and sufferings they endured but also explains the strategic importance of the town. In late 1643 Nantwich was the only town in Cheshire still held by the Parliamentarians. The defeat of Royalist forces at Nantwich thwarted King Charles's plan to create a field army in the northwest based on regiments returning from Ireland and so altered the course of the conflict and therefore in some small way we can claim credit for a constitutional monarchy and the supremacy of Parliament.”
Reflecting on the situation of a divided nation he added, tongue in cheek: “Meaning, that Nantwich is responsible for our current state of affairs.”
The display features interpretation panels developed by the museum's Research Group, which enjoys a wide range of expertise including art, design and model making, all supplemented by artefacts of the time and informative replicas. Chair of the museum Board, Nick Dyer observed how the new display helps to bring the Civil War to life and enable the community to understand its past. He hoped it would be of interest to specialists, local residents and visitors.
In development since 2015 under the direction of Dr Keith Lawrence the centre was conceived as an educational resource focussed on the war in this locality. Speaking at the opening Keith Lawrence explained how much of what we think we know about the Civil War is inaccurate, because it is based on seventeenth century tales, which have become accepted as fact over the years. He stressed: "The new centre is trying to paint an accurate picture by peeling apart the conventional stories, which are mostly propaganda". He acknowledged all those who had helped create the centre, including the National Civil War Centre, Newark and Grosvenor Museum, Chester as well as Colin Bisset and Brenda Rampling of The Sealed Knot, whose attendance in period costume added a touch of colour to the occasion.
Entry to the museum and new centre is free.
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