Anyone approaching Chorley from the south along the A6 Bolton Road will be familiar with the junction of Wigan Lane and Frederick’s Ice Cream shop.
There is nothing to indicate that 360 years ago this area played a crucial part in the ending of the English Civil War in 1651.
According to information from the Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society, after nine years of intermittent fighting one of the final conflicts began in Lancashire with the Battle of Wigan Lane.
It was fought on August 25, 1651 between the Royalists under the command of the Earl of Derby and elements of Cromwell’s New Model Army under the command of Colonel Robert Lilburn.
Colonel Lilburn and his army were camped around Brindle and Hoghton while the Earl of Derby was in Wigan after marching from Preston.
Colonel Lilburn with about 1,000 Parliamentarian troops left Brindle and headed through Chorley towards Wigan hoping to track the Earl of Derby’s 1,400 Royalist troops as they proceeded south.
Derby had other ideas and decided to confront Lilburn. A running skirmish began in Wigan Lane at the Chorley end and ran towards Wigan town.
The full battle followed and the fighting was extremely fierce. Over 300 were killed and 400 taken prisoner but Colonel Lilburn was eventually victorious.
The Earl of Derby was wounded but survived. He had two horses shot from under him and his breastplate armour had saved him from seven shots.
His faithful supporter, Sir Thomas Tyldesley, also had his horse shot from under him but while rejoining the fighting was cut down and killed.
Sir Thomas Tyldesley was a well respected soldier and often referred to as ‘The Finest Knight in England.’
Twenty eight years after his death, Alexander Rigby, his standard bearer, erected a stone monument to his memory at the spot where he fell on the outskirts of Wigan.
It still stands to this day on Wigan Lane across from the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary.
The Earl of Derby survived to fight with King Charles II at the Battle of Worcester 9 days later on 3rd Sept 1651.
Here the 16,000 Royalist forces of the King were overwhelmed and defeated by Cromwell’s 28,000 strong ‘New Model Army.’
The King survived and escaped into exile, hiding in
The Boscobel Royal Oak tree. He was restored to the throne nine years later in 1660. Unfortunately James Stanley, the 7th Earl of Derby, was captured, tried and executed in Bolton on 15th Oct 1651.