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Looking along Fenn Lanes Roman road from near Apple Orchard Farm westward towards the site of the marsh.
 
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The Fenn Lanes looking west towards the site of the marsh from close to Apple Orchard Farm
A Battlefield Walk

2.5 miles over easy terrain but with various stiles.

This route covers the site first clearly defined by Foss and is intended to provide the visitor with an opportunity to explore this alternative to the site on Ambion Hill which is presented in the trail from the Visitor Centre. There is no wholly satisfactory route to explore the battlefield on foot but this suggestion does give access to the heart of Redemore. It is possible to make the walk into a circular route, but this involves walking along the verge of the Fenn Lanes, which is not busy but has very fast traffic, so must be negotiated with great care.

The walk described here is meant to be used in conjunction with the Battlefield Explorer map, which can be obtained from the download area on the left of the page.

From the Visitor Centre drive to the Whitemoors car park, turning left towards Shenton village. In the village turn left at the T junction towards Stoke Golding. The Whitemoors car park is half a mile out of the village on the right hand side. This provides the safest access to the battlefield as currently understood.

The car park lies on the top of a shallow ridge running north south across Redemore. This area was known in the 18th century as Moorey Leys. It had been part of the open fields of Shenton and in the wood behind the car park, which is not accessible, is the one place where the earthwork ridge and furrow of the medieval cultivation strips still survive, having been destroyed elsewhere by modern cultivation. It was north westward along this ridge of arable fields or ley grass that it is thought Henry’s army advanced from the Fenn Lanes in the all important manoeuvre which allowed it, with the protection of the marsh to the east, to outflank Richard’s army.

Opposite the car park entrance, on the other side of the road, is a permissive path leading into the narrow field on the east side of the road. Here the ground falls slightly towards the stream. It is somewhere in this low ground that the marsh lay, which is referred to in Vergil’s account of the battle. The marsh certainly existed on either side of the Fenn Lanes, to the south of here, where the valley floor is much wider, but it is not yet known if the marsh itself extended a far north as our path or if this was simply meadow land in 1485.

Wherever the marsh ended is where Henry’s army will have turned eastward again to engage the vanguard of Richard’s army. That crucial clash of the vanguards may have occurred on the slight ridge on the other side of the stream or perhaps more likely a little further back towards the river Sence. Walk alongside the stream, which is probably the ditch dug in the 16th century to drain the marsh, up to the north east corner of the field.

Cross the stream and follow the path south eastward. On your left is the river Sence, on your right the slight ridge is what was known in the 18th century as Greenhill, another area of medieval strip fields belonging to Shenton village. The path leads along the slight ridge where Richard’s army may have originally deployed, but it is perhaps more likely that they were on the ground to the north east, just on the other side of the river Sence. Only careful archaeological survey work will finally resolve the question as to where the armies stood and where the vanguards clashed.

All of the fields and trees you see around you today were planted after the open fields of Shenton and adjacent townships were enclosed in the century or two after the battle. In 1485 it is likely that the whole area was completely open with hardly a tree in sight, except perhaps for a few pollarded willows along the marsh or stream edges. While marshland lay to the west of this ridge, the land to the east, alongside the Sence, was free draining meadow providing no significant obstruction to the advance of an army.

As you walk southward the ground rises very gently until you reach Apple Orchard Farm. Foss has suggested that this was the site of a windmill at the time of the battle, which might perhaps lend credence to the reference in one of the Ballads that the Earl of Norfolk was taken near a windmill when the vanguard was defeated. That is of course assuming that the armies really did fight across this ridge.

From here the path leads to the Fenn Lanes. It is safest to retrace your steps to the car park, but if you intend to follow the road to complete a circular walk then great care should be taken. To follow the road back to the car park, turn right along the Fenn Lanes. This was the Roman road to Leicester, along which Henry’s army is thought to have advanced from Atherstone. After 450 yards the road turns slightly to the left. This was the eastern edge of the marshland. Another 250 yards and it turns slightly to the right again. This was the western edge, although how much was dry land and how much impenetrable wetland in 1485 has still to be established. The fields on either side of the road here are remarkably flat and, though well drained by the deep ditch on the western edge, may originally have been impossible to cross other than by the Roman road itself. Looking to the south from here the steeple of Stoke Golding church is clearly visible, with the rising ground of Crown Hill just to the right, now surmounted by houses in the village. This is the traditional site where Henry was crowned after the battle.

Follow the road westward again and just over the crest of the rise a road turns off to the right. This leads back to Shenton and the Whitemoors car park. Walking along this road you are probably following the route taken by Henry’s army in its original outflanking move at the begining of the battle.

 

   
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