2012 was a wonderful year for the regiment whose founding members built Berwick Parish Church in 1650....they were presented with new Colours by Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor, marked her Diamond Jubilee with a Memorial weekend service in The Guards Chapel and Trooped their new Colours before The Queen on her Diamond Jubilee Birthday Parade...all of these events he then Vicar, himself a member of The Coldstream and his wife were privileged to attend.
The BBC recently produced a Documentary on The Coldstream Guards. BBC staff producer and film maker Ollie Bootle and Coldstream Guards Regimental Headquarters invited the Vicar of Berwick to work with him on behalf of the Regiment The Coldstream Colours were laid up in Berwick Parish Church in 2000 by General Sir Michael Rose.
Ollie and his sound man began beneath The Colours of The Coldstream, set above their founder's memorial in Holy Trinity, the church they actually built. The team the filmed in and around the building and town of Berwick before driving to Coldstream, to film the ford where the Regiment crossed the then freezing River Tweed on their long march south in 1660, which today's members re-created in 2000.
The documentary included footage of the Coldstream on operations, training, guarding Buckingham Palace and also record their part in the Royal Wedding, also cine film footage taken by Alan when on operations in Yemen in the 1960s, films now in The Imperial War Museum archives.
Alan is proud to have been involved in the making of this programme, promoting both Berwick and his Regiment, adding that he had thrown his energy into restoring Berwick Parish Church as much to honour his Regiment as the people of the town for which they built the structure.
Led by Major James Colbey, 100 members of The Coldstream set off from Coldstream on exercise 'Enduring Guardsman' 6th January 2010 with prayers led by Canon Hughes, then south and into the history books - the first Coldstreamers to re-create The Long March - arriving in London 30th January, to be welcomed to Tower Hill by General Sir Richard Dannatt, former Head of The Army and now Constable of The Tower of London - The Vicar offering the prayer which he used at the outset.
left to right - Major Crofton, Viscount Ridley, The Vicar, Colonel Vernon
beneath The Colours of The Coldstream in Berwick Parish Church
100 members of Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards
The Marchers were welcomed into Berwick Parish Church, which they built in 1650. by The Mayor and Sheriff, Town Councillors and The Freemen of Berwick in their robes. Entering Church with The Civic Party to Regimental Slow March 'Figaro' greetings were exchanged, Micah Ch4 vv1-5 read, encouraging address delivered, prayers for safe journey offered, The National Anthem sung followed by 'Battle Hymn of The Republic' before The Coldstream processed out of Church to their Regimental Quick March, 'Milanollo'
***we are currently updating our site and are not yet able to show the many photographs which normally appear
Their forebears were welcomed in similar fashion in 1660. In those uncertain times after Cromwell's death, the Berwick Guild Book records on the 2nd of January 1660: "An emergency meeting of the Guild was called 2nd January 1659, as The Mayor had had reported to him by a friend that The Lord General Monck had left Coldstream and made rendezvous at Millfield that day. It was agreed that a letter be sent to The Lord General assuring him that Town was at his service. The letter to be delivered by Alderman Watson, Mr Pratt, Mr Webb and Mr Jackson."
The Coldstream were granted The Freedom of Berwick in 2000, when their Colours were laid up above the memorial to Colonel George Fenwick, who founded both Church and Regiment, which, as Monck's Regiment of Foot, built the structure in 1650 from the stones of the then redundant 13thC Castle of Edward I.
They last exercised their freedom rights through Berwick-upon-Tweed on Wednesday 25th March 2008 - led by Colonel Vernon, Colonel Foot Guards
Berwick-upon-Tweed granted The Coldstream
The Freedom of Berwick on July 25th 2000.
They marched through town behind The Regimental Band
to lay up The 2nd Bn Queen's and Regimental Colours in Church.
The Coldstream Guards Connection to Berwick upon-Tweed............
Any visit to London would be incomplete without sight of a Royal Palace guarded by men in Red Tunics balancing enormous Black Bearskins caps on their heads. The Coldstream Guards are synonymous with Royal Guard duty and have an intriguing motto ‘Nulli Secundus’. I wonder how many of those gazing through the iron railings of Buckingham Palace realise this illustrious Regiment's links with Northumberland and how it came by its motto?
We know that one General George Monck Commanded a Regiment of Foot in the mid 17th century. After adventuring around Scotland on behalf of his master Oliver Cromwell, Monck and his regiment camped at Coldstream, just over the Tweed border with North Northumberland, before marching to Tower Hill at London and eventually pledging his men’s loyal service to King Charles II in 1660 but what of the earlier years?
Civil War broke out in England in 1642, Scotland became involved the next year after offering support to the Parliamentarians. Berwick-upon-Tweed was garrisoned by the Scots, whilst the main Scottish Army held its own adventures around England up to 1647. On 28th April 1648 Berwick was taken by Sir Marmaduke Langdale and Sir Charles Lucas’ Royalist force of 120 horsemen, who held out until September 15th, when Oliver Cromwell’s men defeated them. He demanded that Berwick Burgesses provision and billet his soldiers at their own expense and took up residence at nearby Mordington House on 21st Sept 1648. Cromwell entered Berwick for the first time himself on Sept 30th. Shortly afterwards, on 30th January 1649, Charles I was executed at Whitehall and Great Britain became a Protectorate under Cromwell.
The Governor of Berwick was 'Roundhead' Colonel George Fenwicke of Brinkburn House, who set in motion the building of the present Holy Trinity Church with The Freemen of Berwick. Work began in 1648 using stones and timbers from Edward I 13thC Berwick Castle. The oak roof beams were perhaps 300 years old when first cut, seedlings when Celtic Saints laid the foundations of Christian faith in the north at nearby Lindisfarne or Holy Island.
When the newly crowned King Charles II ventured out of exile in Europe and entered the river Spey on June 23rd 1650, Cromwell mobilised his forces. By 13th July he was back up at Berwick, having by this time, through an amazing feat of logistics, provisioned the garrison with 3000 tents, 3000 quarters of wheat, 2800 of oats, 400,000 pounds of biscuits, 180 tons of cheese. He sent 2,500 men ahead to Sir Arthur Haselrig and ordered him to keep the road open from Berwick to Edinburgh, to allow his main force clear passage to challenge Charles.
As Cromwell reached the outskirts of Berwick on July 12th, The Mayor and Corporation directed that “it is thought fitt and so hereby ordered that all the Burgesses who have borne office shall be in their gownes, and all other the free burgesses to accompany Mr Maior and the Justices to-morrow morning to attend the General at the first muskitt when he cometh in.” Cromwell passed through Berwick and on to Mordington, his headquarters back in 1648.
The foundation stone of Berwick Parish Church was laid at this time, Cromwell credited with influencing the design significantly, permitting no bells or bell tower, no stained glass, no sanctuary, pulpit and bible central in the church, surrounded by box pews - the outcome, a ‘plain Puritan preaching box’ making it unique, the only Parish Church to built in such a distinctive style during The Commonwealth. Over the centuries fine stained glass windows have been added, including fine 16thC Flemish Roundels, sequestrated by The King from The Duke of Buckingham and given to Berwick.
Whilst in Berwick, awaiting orders to move north to siege Dunbar and Edinburgh Castles, the soldiers greatly impressed the people of Berwick, the 'Roundheads' earning a reputation for hard work. They cleared dunghills and middens from the towns streets and cleaned up the water supply. It was at this time that Fenwicke and Haselrig each gave five companies of men to Cromwell, which he placed under the Command of General George Monck, the same Monck’s Regiment of Foot which at The Restoration became The Coldstream Guards.
In 1658 Richard Cromwell succeeded upon the death of his father and the Guild of Berwick Freemen sent a letter of congratulations to him. Richard’s protectorate lasted barely a year and over the summer of 1659 it was rumoured in the Town that General Monck, then occupying the small community of Coldstream in Scotland was undecided in his loyalty. Berwick armed itself with old Civil War armour and prepared defences against attack by Monck. Towards the end of 1659 delightful thing happened, Lady Monck came to visit Berwick and was welcomed by The Mayor with gifts of wine and sugar. Monck returned to Berwick peaceably on December 21st and both General and Town agreed that they were still supporters of the Parliamentarian cause.
However, as history shows, Monck and his Regiment headed south to Tower Hill via the Knavesmire at York and by the next summer had welcomed The Restoration of The Monarchy as had the people of Berwick-upon-Tweed. As Monck encouraged his men to lay down their arms for King Charles II, The Mayor and Burgesses of Berwick sent this message to The King: “Whereas it hath pleased God in most miraculous manner, to restore our Royal Prince, King Charles II to the exercise of his Royal power in these his three kingdoms, which, through the late great distractions and distempers that hath happened hath been denied him, and for that his happy arrival on English ground it hath been the great desire of this Guild to draw up a congratulatory address expressing their joy for his Majesty’s happy return to and enjoyment of his just rights, crowns, and dignities.”
In recent years we have raised and spent £500,000 in order to ensure the structural integrity of Berwick Parish Church. With English Heritage funding and other grants, together with money raised through sheer hard work and generosity locally.. The burden on local Parish Churches is frightening, small groups of worshippers, maintaining places of worship and witness, used by the wider community in moments of thankfulness borne out of both joy and sorrow. I have visited Denmark and Sweden in recent years, buildings and grounds maintained by the State through a small local tax, sadly this is not possible in our own land.
I believe Holy Trinity to be Berwick-upon-Tweed’s major Jewel, set inside the historic Elizabethan Walls and standing opposite the first Barracks built for a standing army by King George I. Many folk visit and remark in our book that the Church feels ‘well prayed in’- indeed it is. The original Preface to The Church of England's wonderful 1662 Book of Common Prayer mentions Berwick-upon-Tweed specifically- the only Parish in the land to be so honoured. The monarch always directed that the book be “appointed to be used by all that officiate in all Cathedral and Collegiate Churches and Chapels and in all Chapels of Colleges and Halls in both the Universities (there were only 2 then)and the Colleges of Eaton (sic) and Winchester, and in all Parish Churches and Chapels within the Kingdom of England, Dominion of Wales and Town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.” Such was Bewick's importance as a frontier town, a bulwark against The Scots and their French allies. Towards the end of the first quarter of the 16thC, the King had directed that a collection be taken throughout England and Wales to fund the building of a new church for Berwick, to stand alongside the original mediaeval structure where there had been a place of worship since the early 11thC.
As a Coldstreamer myself I was delighted that The Coldstream were granted The Freedom of Berwick in July of 2000 on the 350th anniversary of our formation, the 350th anniversary of the founding of Holy Trinity and the 340th anniversary of The Restoration of The Monarchy. With the Church restored I am doubly proud, which is why I make appeal to all members of The Coldstream and all who admire them, to help in any way they can to maintain what I believe to be the genesis Church of The Coldstream. A warm welcome awaits any Coldstreamer and his family visiting Berwick to spend a moment in prayer at the splendid Memorial to our founder, set into the south wall of Berwick Parish Church, which reads:
“Colonel George Fenwicke of Brinkburne Esq, Governor of Berwick in the yeare 1652 was a principal instrument in causeing this Church to be built and died March 15th 1656 - A Good Man is a Public Good”
We have an open Church policy which welcomes visitors to Berwick Parish Church, open during daylight hours, thanks to security measures. Priest and Parishioners often spending time welcoming and explaining our history and indeed the faith so firmly expressed by those who worship regularly today. Church and Parish Centre are on the level, with toilet facilities and full access for wheelchairs
Nulli Secundus? - it means ‘Second to None’ As Monck and his ‘Regiment of Foot’ reached Tower Hill they learnt that they had been ‘pipped at the post’ by another Regiment. The newly restored King Charles named these The Grenadier Guards, the first of his new Foot Guards. Monck’s men, having marched from Coldstream, were named The Coldstream Guards and his ‘Second of Foot’. Time is one thing, Regimental pride another, and so the new Regiment largely comprisied of Geordies declared itself to be ‘Second to None’ - with an eye on the clock ever since and most Coldstreamers try to keep an old Regimental tradition of always being ‘five minutes early for any appointment’ The Coldstream still guard Royal Palaces and much more, they are as much at home in combat kit as red tunics. Members served in The Gulf War and presently operate in Northern Ireland and Germany with men seconded to units serving further afield. Recruiting of new members is strong in Northumberland but a direct line for anyone wishing to apply to join The Coldstream is 0171-414-3247 (or 3243). Strong and active Regimental Association branches meetin Newcastle and Ashington for former members and help give meaning to the truth that ‘once a Coldstreamer, always a Coldstreamer’ - after 49yrs I know what that means.
Canon Alan Hughes CF TD
Coldstream Guards and Parachute Regiment
former Vicar of Berwick (1994-2013)