'The Battle of Heptonstall' by The Brutish Multitude
'for the multitude is so Brutish, that they are ever in the extreames of kindnesse or Cruelty, being void of Reason and hurried on with an unbridled violence in all their Actions, trampling down all respect of things Sacred and Civill...The People becomes a most pernicious Tyrant.' - Marchamont Nedham, pamphleteer for Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.
The Brexit referendum is often quoted as having divided the UK in a way not seen since the English Civil War. The Battle of Heptonstall is a community play for the West Yorkshire village of Heptonstall and beyond that seeks to revisit that period in an attempt to see how accurate this claim is, how divisions within society are created and resolved and how sometimes people who want no part in a civil conflict are inextricably pulled into one...
A voluntary group, The Brutish Multitude – named after the quote in Cromwell’s pamphlet - has been set up in the village to fund and produce the play. The research, development and rehearsal process is a six month long project marking the 375th anniversary of the Civil War battle of the same name. In October 1643 a Roundhead army marched from Rochdale to occupy Heptonstall, just over the Yorkshire border. In November 1643 a Royalist army gathered before dawn in Hebden Bridge beneath the hilltop village. As the Royalists began the 500 foot climb at dawn they were met with a cascade of falling rocks followed by a Roundhead and villager infantry assault. Local writer and director Michael Crowley tells the story of the weeks leading to the battle and its aftermath through the lives of a family of cloth makers. The play will be performed by members of the local community in Heptonstall’s St Thomas the Apostle Church in February 2019.