The Horlick Family of
Peter Horlick (1771-1841), a
saddler, moved from Cranham, near Stroud, to
Ruardean and married a local girl, Ann Vaughan, in
February 1796. The couple had three daughters before
Ann died in 1806. His wedding to his second wife,
Lettice Vaughan (1772-1816) was at Gloucester in
1807. After Letty's death in 1816, Peter's third wife was
Betty Edwards, who he married at nearby Walford in
1817. There were a total of nine children from the
Only one of his sons survived to adulthood. He was
James, also trained as a saddler, who was born to
Lettice in 1809. James Horlick's older sister,
Elizabeth who was baptised at
Ruardean in 1801, married William Nockells
(1801-1868) at St. Marylebone, London in 1824. He
was born at Shadwell, Middlesex (now part of Tower
Hamlets). Their only son, William Nockells,
who was born in 1824, completed his education at
St. John's College, Cambridge in 1855. He became the
rector of Ifield parish in Kent during the late
1850s and vicar at Rayleigh, Essex in the 1870s.
After Elizabeth's husband died in 1868 she moved
back to Ruardean where the 1871 census records her
living at Lawn House (The Lawn today?) with her two
servants. She died in January 1878, only two months
before her brother James, and is believed to be
buried at her son's parish in Rayleigh, Essex.
In 1837 James Horlick
(1809-1878) married Priscilla Griffiths
(1816-1874), who was also a native of Ruardean. They
had four sons, John Griffiths Horlick
(1839–1844), Peter Horlick
(1842–1901), James Horlick (1844–1921), and William O Horlick
(1846–1936). Their first born, John, died when only 5 years old.
James Horlick snr was a
saddler and harness maker with two employees, a landowner of several properties at Ruardean,
on the committee of a Friendly Society and the
Prosecution Club, a parish
overseer, and in 1861, the census taker.
The Prosecution Club
formed in October 1839, a year before the Forest's
first police-station opened, held its meetings at
the Bell Inn, Ruardean which was situated opposite
the church. Its rules and regulations aimed to
financially help members to prosecute cases of
burglary, theft, arson, or wilful damage at the
Assizes or Quarter Sessions. It was still active in
Horlick's sons were sent to a private school in Hampshire.
William appears on the 1861 census during the Easter
holiday staying with a schoolmate, one of the Snow
family, in a village near Winchester, while James
was visiting his cousin, the Reverend William
Nockells, Rector of Ifield, Kent, son of Elizabeth
James and William
Horlick attended a small private school at
Micheldever, Hampshire in the 1860s which was run by
William Pettit from Cheltenham. This item from an
1861 Hampshire newspaper reports James Horlick
receiving a prize for Latin, a subject essential for
his future pharmacy studies. William excelled on the
sports field. He was a regular member of the
school's cricket first team.
After completing their
education two of the brothers moved to
London, where James joined a homeopathic chemist in
Street, close to Piccadilly Circus, and William, a saddler in
nearby Lisle Street.
James Horlick snr was also
involved in brewing and contributed his malting
experience in the early 1870s when his sons were
seeking a new drink formula. James junior's
experiments in the granary at Ruardean involved
mixing fresh milk with wort, a liquid extracted from
malted barley and wheat during the brewing process.
The mixture was then reduced to granules by slowly
removing its moisture in a copper bain-marie
floating in a boiler. The temperature in the
bain-marie did not rise above the boiling point of
water and enabled the process of lengthy periods of
evaporation without the mixture burning.
He sold his three cottages
at Cinderhill, Ruardean in July 1877, probably to
help finance the building of his sons' new factory
in Racine. He may also have helped out his eldest
son Peter, whose business went into liquidation a
When James died in 1878 his
assets were listed as under £50.
Peter Horlick, had a brother,
Alexander, still living at Cranham, who was born in 1774. A
timber merchant, he had married Frances Lovegrove
there in 1794.
One of their eight children
was Joseph Alexander Horlick
(1813-1889). He served a seven year
apprenticeship as a blacksmith and wagon-maker. In
1843 he married local girl, Arabella
Lediard (bn 1824), from Cranham and in 1844,
migrated to America with his new wife and baby son, arriving at
Racine on August 14th.
a city in Wisconsin located on the shore of Lake
Michigan at the mouth of the Root River around 76
miles from Chicago.
It was a frontier town
until connected by rail to Milwaukee and Chicago in
1855. Its proximity to those two large cities, and
the Western frontier, provided a ready market for
On the left
is True Blue House, now Fern House, the home
of Peter Horlick (1771-1841). The plaque
above has it built in 1769. To its right is
Horlick House where his son James Horlick
snr (1809-1878) and his wife Priscilla
The granary at Ruardean
where the Horlick brothers experimented with their
malted drink formula in the early 1870s
On arriving at Racine
Joseph Horlick worked as a
carpenter for about two years; and then, like his
father in Painswick, Gloucestershire, entered the wood and timber business,
supplying large quantities of piles and timber for
bridge piers, docks, etc. He continued in that
business until 1853, when, having purchased a piece
of stone property at the Rapids, he turned his
attention to dealing in the lime and stone business,
later branching out in farming, milling, and ice
supply. He went on to hold several public offices of
trust, and was a prominent Freemason. The couple had
six children, four sons and two daughters.
Already a wealthy man, he took a trip to England
in 1869 and, while visiting his cousin James at
Ruardean, persuaded 24 year old William Horlick
return to America with him.
William stayed for around
one year. During that time he fell for his cousin,
Joseph's 19 year old daughter Arabella, and the couple
were married at Racine on the 16th of November,1870.
On the day of their marriage they started on the trip
back home to settle in England.
The 1871 census records the
couple living at High Street, Ross, a few miles from
Ruardean, where his occupation was recorded as a saddler employing two men.
1872 William and Arabella, now accompanied by their first
child, returned to the USA on board the City of
He then went to
work in his father-in-law's stone and timber
From early 1872 there was a huge demand
for stone and building materials after the Great
Chicago Fire, a conflagration that had burned from
Sunday, October 8, to early Tuesday, October 10,
1871. It killed around 300 people, destroying
roughly 3.3 square miles of Chicago, including the
City's central business district, and left more than
100,000 residents homeless.
The same night
of that disaster, an even deadlier fire annihilated
Peshtigo, Wisconsin and other villages and towns
north of the city of Green Bay.
William entered into a co-partnership with the
family firm of J. A. Horlick & Sons, now listed as
manufacturers and dealers in lime, stone, cement,
stucco, flour, etc. By early 1875 he had moved with
his family to Chicago to superintend the branch of
the business supplying building materials to that
rapidly re-emerging city.
Joseph Horlick's home at
Racine in the 1870s
Joseph Alexander Horlick (1813-89) was
musically inclined, inventing and patenting a piano
bridge in 1869. In 1874 he moved back to his
Gloucestershire birthplace leaving his sons to take
over the business. One of his many interests
was bell-ringing, having been a member of the
Painswick ringers before migrating to America. He
presented a bell to Cranham church on the occasion
of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.
He was a popular member of the community and a
Justice of the Peace when he died at Rock House,
Wotton in July 1889 aged 76. In his honour
bell-ringers rang half-muffled bells for 30 minutes
at the local church.
James Horlick, is recorded on the 1861
census as staying with his cousin, the Rev.
William Nockells, (born 1824) Rector of Ifield, Kent.
William was the only son of Peter's daughter,
Elizabeth Horlick (1801-1878) who had married
William Nockells in London.
James later obtained a position to train as a pharmacist
with a London based German chemist, Gustav
Mellin, who was in the process of
developing a nutritious infant food, "a milk
modifier" to mix with milk and water. The new
product, Mellin's Food for Infants and Invalids, was
announced in 1866 and produced at Mellin’s
Marlborough Works in Stafford Street, Peckham.
One of the things James learned from Mellin was that
the marketing was as important as the product
itself. Their largest competitor, Nestle’s, used
national press adverts to warn potential customers that
“impure milk is one of the chief causes of sickness
Mellin fought back by sending out free samples,
together with a pseudo-scientific booklet claiming
to new mothers that his formula was better for their
babies than breast milk.
Another lesson James learned would have been the
need for adequate finance to set up this type of
business. Mellin was himself declared bankrupt in
1869 and only survived by making a legal arrangement
with his creditors.
Contemporary legend relates that James Horlick left
the company in 1874 to join his brother William in
Chicago to market a new product. He was certainly
still with that company in April 1873 when he
married Margaret Adelaide Burford,
the daughter of a Leicester builder, at St. James,
Westminster, and gave his home address as 16
Tichborne Street, Gustav Mellin's home.
however, another possible reason for his arrival in
New York on the Parthia in September 1874.
He may, at that time, have continued to be employed
as a representative of Gustav Mellin.
1874 was an important year in the Mellin company's
history. They formed an agreement with Theodore
Metcalf & Co. of Boston (later known as
Doliber-Goodale) to promote and distribute their
product in the USA.
James Horlick broker the deal and perhaps also own
shares in Mellin's?
Mellin's Food was soon to become a major success
when promoted all over the USA in women's magazines.
By the end of the century, it was a highly
successful product worldwide.
James Horlick certainly appears to have made New
York his home. He and Margaret with their 3 month
old baby Ernest, who was born on board a ship
carrying the couple from New York to Racine, are
recorded on the 1880 New York census. Their other
two sons, James Nockells Horlick 1886, and Gerald
Nolekin Horlick 1888, were both born there.
At Chicago in late 1874 the brothers formed the
partnership of J & W Horlick to
manufacture an artificial
William, obtained their first US patent on 18 May 1875
for the product.
One source relates that this was contrary to the
wishes of James, who was away from Chicago at the
time. He believed that the patent might give too
much information to their competitors, but he may
also have been fearful of being in breach of
contract with Gustav Mellin.
James, mainly working from
New York, took responsibility for marketing to the
medical profession and pharmaceutical trade, and
William in Chicago looked after the production and
financial side of the business. They followed a
Mellins practice with their national adverts
offering free samples. The product immediately
In 1877 the Horlick brothers opened their single
storey factory on the outskirts of Racine,
Wisconsin, manufacturing "Horlick's Infant &
Invalids Food". It is believed that James
Horlick's father-in-law, Joe Horlick from Racine,
assisted with the finance but we also know that
their father, James, sold three cottages he owned at
Cinderhill, Ruardean, in July 1877. When he died his
assets were listed as under £50.
Their business was incorporated in 1878 as the
Horlick Food Company.
The first building housed eight reducing boilers
based on their original bain-marie principal with
steam encased in a copper jacket replacing the
original boiler and floating bain-marie.
Harrison, at that time chairman of Horlicks Ltd, UK, related
in 1954 that "Some-when late in the 1870s James
Horlick was attending a Medical Convention (where, I
am not sure, but I think it was Cincinnati) and when
talking with a number of doctors, one of them
suggested to James Horlick that he should give
thought to providing the perfect infant food -
namely one that contained milk and required only
water for its reconstitution."
James apparently accepted the challenge and after
several years of experimentation the brothers
succeeded in evolving the popular formula we are
familiar with today.
A part of the
process employed in its manufacture involved boiling the milk in a vacuum to one hundred
and forty degrees, and removing all water.
In 1883, they secured U.S. patent 278,967 for the
first malted milk drink mixing powder, and in 1887, the
partnership were producing, for the first time in world history, a
food product in powder form containing clean rich
milk combined with extracts of malted barley and
wheat that would keep indefinitely. Originally named
and sold as “Diastroid” it was later called
"Horlick's Malted Milk".
The product was very popular and business swiftly
grew by leaps and bounds. It
often became difficult to meet the demand.
a program of building was instituted. As demand
grew, new reinforced concrete buildings
were added resulting by 1906 in a plant covering an
area of fifteen acres and employing 350 workers.
In 1889 James Horlick established the New York
branch of the business, and in 1890, returned to
London to set up an office at
39 Snow Hill Road, London, for importing the
Wisconsin-made product and distributing it
worldwide. He later moved to 34 Farringdon Road,
which remained the company address in England until
the establishment of the factory at Slough in 1907.
His brother William was not enthusiastic about the
establishment of a UK factory and that probably
accounts for it being sixteen years after his
arrival in the UK before James
Horlick bought the green field site at Slough from
nearby Eton College.
The factory was built by Mr. A.G.
Christeson, a mechanical engineer who was sent to
America for a detailed briefing on the equipment
Once started the English operation soon
surpassed the production from the one at Racine.
Horlicks factory in Stoke Poges Lane is today
described as perhaps the most beautiful historical
industrial building still standing in Slough.The
entire project cost around £28,800 (about £9 million
During World War I, the nutritional drink was
popular both at home and in the overseas services.
In World War II the tablets were supplied to Allied troops as an energy boosting treat. They
were commonly included in lifeboat and liferaft
rations and aircrew escape kits.
In 1945 the American branch was acquired by the
English office from Alexander J. Horlick, the
surviving son of William Horlick.
Undergoing an executive reorganization in
1953, the Horlick's Corporation was finally
purchased for approximately 60 million dollars by
Beecham Group Limited of England in 1969. At that
time the extended factory was producing 30 million
pounds of powder a year.
After 100 years of production, Horlick's Corporation
ceased production altogether in the United States in
Few people realise that commercial radio was booming
in the 30s, long before the pirate ships and the
legalisation of Independent Local Radio.
A full 20 years before commercial TV arrived in the
UK, Horlicks were among the pioneers of commercial
In the 1930s when the state-owned BBC held the
broadcasting monopoly, Horlicks was spending more
than one-third of its advertising money on radio
advertising, using the European based stations Radio
Luxembourg and Radio Normandy.
As well as its daily Horlicks Tea Time Hour, it
broadcast Horlicks Picture House at 4pm on Sundays
on both Radio Luxembourg and Radio Normandy,
featuring the well-known stars Vic Oliver, Webster
Booth and Helen Raymond, plus the Horlicks All-Star
In the 1950s, on Radio Luxembourg, Bob
Danvers-Walker announced the "Adventures of Dan
Dare". Whilst former Dick Barton actor Noel Johnson
took the part of Dan, Digby was played by John
Sharpe, Peabody by Anne Cullen, and the Mekon by
Francis De Wolfe. Other parts were played by up and
coming actors, like Kenneth
Williams and Ralph Richardson.
The Dan Dare Radio
Show encouraged young listeners to enroll in the
Horlicks Spacemans Club, and then marketed a series
of related items that could be bought - usually for
6 pence and a label from a Horlicks jar.
William Horlick kept his battered
cornet and the saddle-making tools as reminders of
his early years of relative impoverishment in England. When
he died at his Racine home in 1936 he was 90 years
old and left a $17 million estate (about $287
He had given the Racine community such substantial
gifts as the Memorial Hall, a maternity wing at St.
Luke’s Hospital in memory of his daughter Alice,
Island Park, Horlick Athletic Field, and land for
the high school that was named in his honour.
A mountain range in Antarctica was named after him
by Admiral Richard E. Byrd who, like every polar
explorer for twenty years, had survived on Horlick’s
His three surviving children commissioned a family
mausoleum from the Harrison Granite Company of New
York, to be built at Racine at a cost of $36,000.
Sir James Horlick bought Cowley
Manor – near Cheltenham in 1895 and
extensively remodelled it to resemble the Villa
Borghese in Rome. At the edge of the Upper Lake,
just above the Victorian cascades, a cast concrete
urn pays homage to the fact that this was the first
private house in the UK to use concrete as a
The chairman and
president of Horlicks Ltd, he held the office of
Deputy Lieutenant of Gloucestershire and was a
Justice of the Peace. Sir James was High Sheriff of
Gloucestershire in 1902, and created 1st Baronet
Horlick, of Cowley Manor, Gloucester on 18 July
1914. He died in 1921 at the age of 77.
Their father, James Horlick snr
(1809-1878), unfortunately died at Ruardean in 1878 and was not
around when his two sons found success. His
wife Priscilla had passed away in 1874. His will
revealed his assets as being under £50.
The other son, Peter Horlick
(1842-1901), carried on with the family's saddlery
business at Ruardean. He married a local girl,
Thompson (bn 1854) in 1872, and the couple had two
sons and a daughter, Alexander Nockells Horlick
(1876), Alice Maud (1880), and Oliver Peter (1885).
Peter was not a successful businessman. In addition
to his saddler's shop, he opened a grocery
business at Ruardean but that failed in 1876.
Peter's son, Oliver Peter Thompson Horlick
(1885), became part of the management of the
Horlicks company at Slough. In 1933 he and his wife
Mabel, with their 11 year old son Gerald, sailed to
Australia to open a factory there.
His older brother, Alexander Horlick
(1876) , was the owner of Driffield Farm at Lydney
which came on the market in 1907.
The 1911 census records him living there with his
wife of 9 years, Ellen, and two sons, Jim (7) and
All that remains at
Ruardean Church today to remember the Horlick family
are the gravestones of William & James's grandfather
Peter (1771-1841) and their parents James and
Priscilla (above). The neglected and broken
tombstone of their brother Peter (1842-1901) lies on
the graveyard grass in two pieces. His wife Alice
Horlick (1854-1939), who died at Wootton Bassett in
Wiltshire, was the last member of the family to be
buried here. The church bell, presented by the Horlick family,
and added to the original six with another from Sir
Francis Brain in 1905, still rings out in their
The visit to Horlicks of
Slough by the Greek royal family in 1931
L-R: The Queen Dowager of Greece, Princess
Helene of Romania, Princess Irene of Greece
and Mr Oliver.P.Horlick.
L-R: King George of Greece. Princess
Katherine of Greece, Madam Christian Costy,
L-R: Prince Paul of Greece and Denmark, Mr
Frederick.A.Kilby (Works Manager), Mr Peter
Horlick, Mr.H.W Weathersbee (Sales Manager),
Dr.C.R.Williams, Mr.C.J.Harrison (Publicity
The Reverend John Horlick. A number of
erroneous accounts relate that the Reverend John
Horlick (1778-1858) and his family, some of whom
were buried in the Congregational Church graveyard
at Ruardean, were related to William & James
There does not, however, appear to be any connection
between the Cranham Horlick family and those from nearby
John Horlick arrived at Ruardean
from Painswick around 1800 to be minister at the new
Congregational church built in 1798. His father,
Robert Horlick, a weaver, is believed to have been
related to the family of clothier Zachariah
Horlick (1706-98), the owner of Rock Mill,
who lived at Hambutts House in Painswick and also
owned a fair amount of property in Painswick.
Zachariah was a friend and financial supporter of
Cornelius Winter, who was responsible for the
building of a number of chapels, and the training of
several non-conformist ministers, one of whom was
A sermon occasioned by
Zachariah's death was written at Painswick, on July
1st, 1798, by Cornelius Winter, and later published.
It was the practice of Mr Winter to send out his
students to preach in neighbouring towns and
villages. In 1800 John Horlick was sent to the Independent chapels at Mitcheldean and
Ruardean. He so impressed the locals that they asked
for him to be their minister.
After consulting Mr Winter he accepted the
invitation and on June 9th 1801 John was ordained at
Things were not always easy for those early
Nonconformist ministers. John Horlick is recorded
describing an incident at Newnham; "About 1797, Mr
Collins, a clergyman of the establishment, attempted
to preach an evening lecture in a dwelling house,
but the service had not proceeded far before the
windows were all broke, the people dispersed, and
the family of the house were obliged to leave town."
It was also reported, that later, the Independents'
pulpit was thrown into the Severn and the Wesleyan
preaching house wrecked.
In 1832 John Horlick wrote about how religion was
taking a hold in the nonconformist chapels
throughout the Forest. In one section of his
writings he talked about one of the early
evangelistic ministers who helped to shape the
religious beliefs of the Foresters.
"In 1783 Richard Stiff came from Dursley to live in
Blakeney and “moved with sympathy and concern for
the salvation of his fellow immortals. As soon as
was possible, he invited gospel ministers to come
and preach in his own house, and to some of them he
made payments, helping towards their travelling
expenses. To raise the money he worked extra hours,
sometimes even till midnight”
He went out into the Forest and preached under
the extended branches of a tree. Gradually the
suspicious Foresters took notice of this novel
practice and were soon excited by his teachings. He
helped to establish independent chapels at
Littledean, Cinderford, Soudley and Lydney, and
thought nothing of walking 17 or more miles every Sunday
to preach in different parts of the Forest."
The congregations at Ruardean and Mitcheldean at
so small that they could only raise £30 per annum
for his salary.
After a few years John Horlick managed to increase their
numbers from 30 at Mitcheldean and 50 at Ruardean to
around 150 at each chapel. He personally raised £600
to build a new chapel at Mitcheldean and enlarged
and made improvements to the building at Ruardean.
In September 1850 a service to celebrate his 50
years as a preacher was held at Ruardean where he
was presented with two purses of gold containing
£65 (later increased).
In December 1851 he had a stroke which so affected
his speech that he was unable to preach again. He
was 81 when he died at Ruardean in February 1858.
His son, John Robert Horlick,
(1818-1856) was the landlord of the Angel Inn at
Ruardean from 1850 till 1855. He appears to have
changed its name for a short period around 1851 when
the census recorded it as the White Hart. Perhaps
his non-conformist father was not too happy about
its original name.
Ruardyn castle was originally a manor house built in
Norman times, and because of its strategic
importance during the later Middle Ages the manor
included a castle. It was built under a licence
granted in 1311 to Alexander of Bicknor to
crenellate his house at Ruardean.
The surviving ruins indicate that it comprised of a
courtyard enclosed by buildings on its north east
and south west sides, with a tower in the western
corner. Carved stonework dates it to the 13th
century. On the SE side of the courtyard are the
tumbled remains of a gate house, with twin buildings
flanking the entrance, from which a faint hollow-way
leads SE along the spur towards the parish church.
It is believed the site was probably enclosed by a
The area of the mound on which it stood, suggests a
site of considerable size. In the 1930s, when the
area was excavated by local treasure hunters,
remains of a small chamber were uncovered. No
evidence was found to indicate that this site was
ever a motte and bailey castle.
Click on image for Google view
Click on image for more Castle
The building suffered major damage during the Civil
War in the 17th century.
The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of
armed conflicts and political machinations between
Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists
("Cavaliers") over principally, the method of the
kingdom's government and expenditure. Around the
Ruardean area a number of the landowners were
catholics and supporters of the Royalist cause.
A staunch Roman Catholic, and a fervent Royalist,
Joan Vaughan of Ruardean was the
widow of John Vaughan. She was a daughter of Thomas
Baynham of Clearwell, and grand-daughter of Sir
William Wynter of Lydney.
Joan was an heiress in her own right and, acquiring
her husband’s property, including the manor of
Ruardean, on his death she went to live there.
Records show that a large part of her income was
derived from coal and a forge.
In 1641, a year before the start of the Civil War,
regarded as a charitable and brave person, she was,
at the age of 56, indicted for harbouring a priest
at Ruardean. He was named in that indictment as John
She seems to have employed Broughton as a steward
whilst giving him a base to minister from. In the
early part of 1632 he had been imprisoned at London
having been accused of being a priest. The matter
was not proceeded with and he had returned to the
Forest and the protection of the Vaughans.
He apparently had knowledge of estate and woodlands
management and was appointed the first Deputy
Surveyor of the Forest of Dean in 1633, and remained
in that office till the end of the 1630s.
On Joan Vaughan's 1641 arrest she was lodged in
Gloucester gaol. The alleged offence was treason and
subject to the death penalty on conviction.
Fortunately her case did not come to court due to
the intervention of King Charles and she was
As a kinswoman of the infamous Royalist, Sir John
Winter, a man with many enemies, she and her family
would have been thought a prominent target by her
There does not appear to be a record of the
destruction of Ruardyn Castle but we know that the
Roundheads established a garrison at Ruardean and
perhaps it was at that time there would have been a
military action when the defending castle was
possibly put out of action.
During renovations to the Crown Inn at Ruardean in
the 1990s, a Civil War period cannonball was
dug up in the garden.
According to Rev. H G Nicholl's 1858 book where he writes
about the Parliamentarians - "To check these
invasions, the garrison of High-Meadow was carefully
kept up. Ruerdean, six miles to the west, and well
situated for guarding the Forest on the north, was
made another military post, being intended to stop
plunderers from the King’s garrison at Goodrich, and
where there is a spot yet called “Shoot-Hill,”
adjoining which many cannon-balls have been found.
Probably the site of the old castle at Bicknor
was also converted into an out-station, guarding the
two parallel valleys which there pass up towards the
middle of the Forest from the Wye. This station
would likewise assist, from its relative position,
in transmitting signals between Ruerdean and
High-Meadow, or even from Gloucester, if the Beacon,
which formerly stood on the crest of Edge Hill, were
included in the range. Such posts would be
serviceable to the Parliamentary. Colonel Birch,
when engaged in the siege of Goodrich Castle, not
more than four miles north of Ruerdean; relates that
his supplies would be drawn chiefly from the Forest,
as indeed appears from a letter dated 4th July,
1646, in which he says, “We have supplies of shells
for our granadoes from the Forest of Dean.”
It is highly
probable that, like nearby Goodrich Castle, the
buildings here were demolished to prevent future
military use. Nicholls also wrote; "Several
traditions of violence and blood, referring no doubt
to this period, are preserved by the inhabitants of
these parts of the Forest, one of whom reports an
act of cruelty perpetrated on a householder living
in the little hamlet of Drybrook, who was struck
down, and his eyes knocked out, for refusing to give
up a flitch of bacon to a foraging party. Another
legend, relative to the same neighbourhood,
preserves the memory of a skirmish called “Edge
Hill’s Fight,” from the spot on which it occurred.
It is true that some of the neighbouring foresters
suppose it to be “the Great Fight mentioned in the
almanack,” an idea which might perhaps have given
rise to the story, were it not that a small stream
which descends from the place in question bears the
name of “Gore Brook,” from the human blood which on
that occasion stained its waters."
siege of Goodrich Castle by Colonel Birch in 1646.
The outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 saw the castle
under the control of the Earl of Stamford for
Parliament however he soon withdrew and Goodrich was
then occupied by Sir Henry
for the King.
In May 1646 Colonel Birch placed his forces around
Goodrich. At 2pm on June 13th he summoned the Royalist garrison to give
up the castle on June 19th in the name of Parliament
and offered his personal protection for the safety
of the governor, Sir Henry Lingen, and his men.
Sir Henry answered by letter, carried by a
drummer-boy, saying that the King
had entrusted the castle to his care and until he
had orders to the contrary, he would continue to
Colonel Birch then mounted a systematic attack which
included the use of an enormous mortar piece
specially cast for this siege. "Roaring Meg", as
this artillery cannon was known, had a 15.5 inch
barrel diameter and fired a 2cwt hollow ball filled
In addition the water supply was cut to the castle
and mining activity was started under its river side.
The defenders quickly ran out of cannon balls.
Roaring Meg wreaked havoc on its walls and towers,
only six weeks the castle was lost.
During the siege Colonel Birch, was so excited with
his new weapon he personally fired the last 19
After the surrender around 170 Royalists, among them
50 gentlemen from many of the leading local
families, marched out of the ruins and were taken
The inside area of the castle was then partly
demolished by explosives to prevent its future
military use, and the main timbers and lead roofs
The Roundhead force then moved on to Ludlow. On 9th
July 1646 the Royalist garrison of Ludlow
surrendered to Sir William Brereton. The town and
castle were besieged by a strong Parliamentarian
force led by Colonel Birch. There
was some fighting on the outskirts of the town and
some of the suburbs suffered from fire damage but
that castle was surrendered by negotiation.
was born at Ardwick, Manchester in 1615. He
moved to Bristol in 1633 where he set up a
business trading provisions in the Severn
He later became a successful soldier leading
a regiment of the Parliamentary army and
took a prominent part in the recapturing of
the West Country from the Royalists.
He was at the siege of Bristol after being
given command of the regiment of Major
General Phillip Skippon who was wounded at
Naseby, being appointed Governor after the
On December 5th he received a commission by
the Committee of Safety:- "To draw out 1000
foot and your own horse and march to
Herefordshire" & "To endeavor to distress
the city of Hereford and use all means to
take it in."
On December 18th he performed a surprise
attack on the city and the Royalist garrison
made only a token defence.
In March he was again victorious at the
Battle of Stow, in May at Ludlow, and in
July at Goodrich Castle.
After the successful siege of Raglan Castle
in August he was appointed one of the
commissioners involved in the nationwide
On December 9th he entered the House of
Commons as MP for Leominster.
Horlicks Company website
The Christian's penny
magazine, and friend of the people [ed. by J.
The FOREST OF DEAN; an historical and descriptive
account, By H. G. NICHOLLS, M.A., 1858
1954 recollections of Clifford Harrison, Chairman of
Horlicks Ltd, Slough.