Eli’s is having a tea party to mark the coronation in May. The American branch of the family who now have the pub have a mischievous sense of humour, the music for the afternoon is to be provided by a group called the Boston Tea Party.
More than a century before the citizens of New England decided that they wanted to rid themselves of the Crown, there were people from Langport who rallied to the Parliamentarian cause. On 10th July 1645, a decisive victory would lead to Parliamentary control of the West Country.
Not yet the oppressive dictator he was to become, Paraliament’s army at Langport was commanded Oliver Cromwell. He wrote a description of the battle that took place within sight and earshot of the ground on which Eli’s now stands:
In the morning, word was brought us, That the Enemy drew out. He did so with a resolution to send most of his cannon and baggage to Bridgewate’r, which he effected, but with a resolution not to fight, but, trusting to his ground, thinking· he could make away at pleasure.
The pass was strait between him and us; he brought two cannons to secure his; and laid his Musketeers strongly in the hedges. We beat off his cannon, fell down upon his Musketeers, beat them off from their strength, and, where our Horse could scarcely. pass two abreast, I commanded Major Bethel to charge them with two Troops of about one-hundred-and-twenty Horse. Which he performed with the greatest gallantry imaginable; beat back two bodies of the Enemy’s Horse, being Goring’s own Brigade; brake them at sword’s-point.
The Enemy charged him with near 400 fresh Horse; set them all going, – until, oppressed with multitudes, he brake through them, with the loss not of above three or four men. Major Desborow seconded him, with some other of those Troops, which were about three. Bethel faced about; and they both routed, at sword’s-point, a great body of the Enemy’s Horse. Which gave such an unexpected terror to the Enemy’s Army, that it set them all a-running,
Our Foot, in the mean time, coming on bravely, and beating the Enemy from their strength, we presently had the chase to Langport and Bridgewater. We took and killed about 2,000, brake all his Foot. We have taken very many Horses, and considerable Prisoners. What are slain we know not. We have the Lieutenant-General of the Ordinance; Colonel Preston, Colonel Heveningham, Colonel Slingsby, we know of, besides very many other officers of quality.
Within fifteen years, the radical Protestants who were numbered among the Parliamentary forces would find England a hostile place to be. The place for radicalism would be the New England that would be the place for the Boston Tea Party.