Battle of Brentford
12th November 1642
The battle of Brentford, in reality only a skirmish, was fought on the 12th November 1642. Following the battle of Edgehill, and after taking Banbury and Oxford, the royalist army eventually advanced on London along the Thames valley. On 12th a detachment attacked two parliamentarian regiments quartered in Brentford, that were covering the approach to London from the west. The battle primarily involved a fight through what was then the small town of Brentford, some 8 miles from the capital. The royalists were victorious but their army was delayed by the parliamentarian resistance and halted outside the town at nightfall. This allowed the parliamentary field army and London militia to form-up on Turnham Green and halt the King’s advance on London the next day.
The attack on Brentford, and its subsequent sack, followed the King’s agreement to peace negotiations with parliament. For the citizens of London, this confirmed parliamentarian propaganda about the royal army and highlighted the King’s duplicity, strengthening the hand of the those in parliament that favoured war with the King.
Brentford is now wholly encompassed by the urban development of Greater London. However there are limited areas which remain undeveloped within the grounds of Syon House, which lies immediately to the south west of the 17th century town and which also saw action at the time of the skirmish.
War period: Civil Wars
Outcome: royalist victory
Terrain: enclosure and urban
Date: 12 November 1642
Duration: Until nightfall (sunset was about 4:10pm)
Armies: Royalist army: commanded by Patrick Ruthven, Earl of Forth; Parliamentarian army: The most senior parliamentary officer present was Lt Col James Quarles of Denzil Hollis’ regiment.
Numbers: Royalist: up to 4,600 troops engaged from an army of around 12,000; Parliamentarian: around 1,300.
Losses: around 170 dead, unknown wounded and 400 parliamentarian prisoners taken
Grid Reference: TQ177177 (517100 177200)
OS Landranger map: 176
OS Explorer map: 161
To discover more about the work of the Battlefields Trust at Brentford and Turnham Green and to find out more about the battles go to:
Brentford pages compiled by Simon Marsh, May 2005.