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They Called Her Babylon

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The English Civil War

She replied, "the mercies of the wicked are cruel," and that unless they treated with her lord, "they should never take her, nor any of her friends alive."
- Charlotte, Countess of Derby

The Siege of Lathom House

Charlotte Countess of Derby

Lathom House is situated in Lancashire, and in the year of 1643 was the one Royalist stronghold left in the country that hadn't been seized by Cromwell's Parliamentarians. The house was surrounded by an 8-yard moat and a strong palisade. A 6-foot thick wall defended the house with 9 towers (each with 6 cannon) and a strongly fortified gatehouse. A high tower (the 'Eagle Tower') stood in the centre. In June of that year, James Stanley, the seventh Earl of Derby, heeded the King's command and left Lathom House, taking with him an army of fighting men. They headed for the Isle of Man with the intention of stopping Scottish forces en route for England in their support for Cromwell. He left his house in charge of his intrepid wife, Charlotte de la Tremoville.The enemy now looked upon this house as their own, and it was decided that Lathom House must be surrendered. One Puritan minister at Wigan preached the following sermon against Lady Derby upon a text from Jeremiah:
 
Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about; all ye that bend the bow shoot at her; spare no arrows; for she has sinned against the Lord.
(Jeremiah 50.14)

When a commission was obtained by the Parliamentarians to seize Lathom House, and this was made known to Lady Derby, in great secrecy she proceeded to furnish herself with men, arms and ammunition. With considerable determination and unflinching loyalty to her husband and to the king, agaist all odds, she successfully resisted and held back the aggressors until their shameful retreat in the month of May 1644.

It is sad to note that Lathom House was finally taken by the Roundhead General Egerton on Dec 6th 1645 and was ruined, but by this time, the brave and intrepid Charlotte, Countess of Derby was long since gone.

Lathom House
Artist's impression of Lathom House.

They Called Her Babylon
SteeleyeSpan/Ken Nicol

To the halls of Latham House the king he did proclaim
That the seventh Earl of Derby, James Stanley was his name,
Should resist the Scottish force bound for the Isle of Man,
So he gathered up his fighters and obeyed the king's command.

The Countess was of noble blood, though not of royalty,
Yet brave and as intrepid as any man was she.
So the house became a fortress, with her good Lord now gone.
Her name was Lady Charlotte but they called her Babylon.

Chorus: So put yourselves in line against Babylon.
All ye that bend the bow against the crown.
And train the gunner's sights against Babylon
Till the eagle tower does fall and the walls they are thrown down.

 Both the puritans and Fairfax, together they did call
For this one last royal stronghold in Lancashire to fall.
So the garrison she strenghtened and the eagle tower was manned
And refusing all conditions, it was then the siege began.

So put yourselves in line against Babylon.
All ye that bend the bow against the crown.
And train the gunner's sights against Babylon
Till the eagle tower does fall and the walls they are thrown down.

Twas in two good months when those rebels did retreat
They were cast out from the earthworks and driven to defeat.
With dishonour and in shame their siege came to an end,
They were routed by a lady and two hundred loyal men.

So put yourselves in line against Babylon.
All ye that bend the bow against the crown.
And train the gunner's sights against Babylon
Till the eagle tower does fall and the walls they are thrown down

They Called Her Babylon  [click for larger image]
Park Records PRK CD70 (CD, UK, March 2004)

 
Samain (5:59)
 
 
 
(The Siege of Lathom House) (6:19)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Maddy Prior, vocals
Peter Knight, vocals, violin, “Octave” violin, keyboards
Ken Nicol, vocals, guitars
Rick Kemp, vocals, bass
Liam Genockey, drums

Steeleye Span Mk.16
Peter Knight, Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp, Ken Nicol, Liam Genockey

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