Civil War Period

By the 1600s, bereft of any substantial remains of its Castle buildings and in the hands of a rich family of landed aristocrats, the Mound site must have seemed to offer a peaceful, pleasant and attractive area for the building of a stately home. At some time between 1633 and 1640, Sir Francis Seymour appears to have built a new house in the Castle grounds; evidence survives of building work, including the purchase of slates and the employment of a plumber.

Sadly, in 1642, Marlborough's peace was again shattered by the Civil War. The Seymours held the Castle site for the King, but the Town was for Parliament. With his headquarters in nearby Oxford, King Charles had to secure the area. Clarendon describes Marlborough, in his History of the Great Rebellion, as "A Town the most notoriously disaffected of all that Country, otherwise, saving the obstinacy and malice of the inhabitants, in the situation of it very unfit for a garrison... this place the King saw would prove quickly an ill neighbour to him, not only as it was in the heart of a rich County, and so would straiten him, and even infest his quarters."

The King sent Lord Digby and Henry Wilmot to take the town with a detachment of mounted troopers. After some early skirmishes, Royalist troops infiltrated the town down its small alley-ways. The town was captured and looted. As the town had been warned, many buildings were set ablaze. One hundred and twenty prisoners were marched in chains to Oxford.  Battles raged nearby at Roundway Down and Newbury. In 1644, King Charles I took over Lord Seymour’s house at Marlborough on more than one occasion. Much damage was done to the house but Seymour rebuilt it after the war. By 1648, the Seymours were once again entertaining guests at their rebuilt house.

The final chapter in this part of the story is that on 28th April, 1653, the Great Fire of Marlborough burnt two hundred and fifty houses to the ground. The rebuilding of the town was ordered by Oliver Cromwell; and he levied a financial contribution from every parish in the land to help with the cost of rebuilding in gratitude for the town’s support for his cause in the wars. Marlborough remains the only town in the country whose Mayor’s mace substantially survived the Restoration as a Commonwealth (republican) mace.