The story of the battle of Turnham Green and how ‘the sack of London’ was prevented by Londoners. As Charles I’s army marched on the capital in the autumn of 1642, Nehemiah Wallington, a wood-turner living near London Bridge, wrote in his journal, ‘those cruel cavilers doe so plonder & pillage & commit Rapin & use such cruelty that the poore people are caused to fly from house and home to save their children’. Most Londoners shared his fears that city would be pillaged and burnt by the king’s supporters, who had been vilified in the London press and from the pulpits. Londoners had willingly joined the Earl of Essex’s army that summer but had failed to stop the advance of the king’s army. The capture and sack of Brentford, so close to their city, confirmed their worst fears, for their own safety and that of their families. London would be next. At Turnham Green the Civil War that had pitched Englishman against Englishman came to London. On 13 November thousands of volunteers streamed out of the city to join the army and the most ferocious battle in London’s long history began. The outcome would mark a turning point in the conflict that had split the nation.
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