Battle of Turnham Green
13th November 1642
The battle of Turnham Green was fought on the 13th November 1642. Following the battle of Edgehill, and after taking Banbury and Oxford, the royalist army eventually advanced on London along the Thames valley. On 12th a royalist detachment attacked two parliamentarian regiments quartered in Brentford, which were covering the approach to London from the west. The royalists were victorious but their army was delayed by the parliamentarian resistance and halted, probably on Turnham Green at nightfall. This allowed the parliamentary field army and London militia to form-up on Turnham Green and Chiswick common field the next day.
Both armies appear to have deployed in traditional 17th century style with cavalry on the flanks and infantry in the centre. The parliamentarian line extended further than that of the King’s army on the northern side of the battlefield and the royalists deployed musketeers in the hedgerows there to counter this threat. These were driven out by parliamentarian troops, which then outflanked the royalists on that flank with a march to Acton. Despite this favourable position the parliamentarian commander, the earl of Essex, recalled this detachment due to fear over splitting his army and the battle settled into a stalemate. The royalist army was too small to force its way past the parliamentarian forces and, as night fell, the King had to withdraw.
Recriminations occurred on both sides following the battle. On the royalist side, there were some who judged the King had missed an opportunity to end the war, though in reality had he launched an attack on the parliamentarian lines his own army would probably have been defeated. Others on the parliamentarian side, who saw Turnham Green as a missed opportunity to defeat the royalist army, particularly following the successful outflanking manoeuvre, probably had more of a case.
Turnham Green is now largely encompassed by the urban development of Greater London. However there are limited areas which remain undeveloped – parts of Turnham Green and Acton Green, though now municipal parkland, provide a sense of the open ground, which extended as far south as Chiswick House in the 17th century.
Name: Turnham Green
War period: Civil Wars
Outcome: parliamentarian victory
Place: Turnham Green
Terrain: enclosure and open field
Date: 13 November 1642
Duration: Until nightfall
Armies: Royalist army: commanded by Patrick Ruthven, Earl of Forth, but with King Charles I present; Parliamentarian army: Robert Devereux, Third earl of Essex was the overall commander with Sergeant Major General Philip Skippon in command of the London militia.
Numbers: Royalist: around 12,000; Parliamentarian: around 24,000.
Losses: up to 50 in total from both sides, unknown wounded
OS Landranger map: 176
OS Explorer map: 161
To discover more about the work of the Battlefields Trust at Brentford and Turnham Green and to find out more about the battles go to:
Turnham Green pages compiled by Simon Marsh, March 2008.