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The Battle of Hexham

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Detail from a painting by Graham Turner of the Battle of Hexham
The Battle of Hexham 1464 - original painting by Graham Turner The Battle of Hexham - original painting Ref: GT-HEX
15th May 1464

Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, was just nineteen when his father, Edmund Beaufort, was killed at St Albans in 1455, the beginning of a vicious cycle of retribution that would come to characterise the series of conflicts now known as the Wars of the Roses. He would gain revenge at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, where his father's nemesis the Duke of York would die, followed by another victory at the second Battle of St Albans, but the catastrophic defeat at Towton would see Beaufort and the other surviving adherents to Henry VI take refuge in their Northumberland fortresses as they desperately tried to keep their king's cause alive.

Although he could be as ruthless as any of his contemporaries, the new young Yorkist king, Edward IV, did at times try to balance this with a policy of reconciliation, and when Somerset was captured at the close of 1462, he was fortunate to not only receive a full pardon, but become a close companion to Edward 'who loved him well'. Somerset's brief sojourn with the other side lasted until December 1463, when he headed north again with the aim of being reunited with his men at Newcastle.

At Durham he was recognised and narrowly avoided capture while he slept, escaping barefoot in his nightshirt and leaving his armour behind. His retainers in Newcastle attempted to steal away but '... some of them were take and lost their heads for their labour.' Somerset managed to make his way to Bamburgh where he joined King Henry and the remains of his resistance, and from here they organised raids, taking Norham Castle and several towns.

Defeated by Lord Montagu at Hedgeley Moor on 25th April 1464, the remains of Somerset's army were seemingly caught by surprise early on 15th May near Hexham, Montagu's soldiers sweeping down into their camp and scattering the survivors. With their back to the aptly named Devil's Water, there were few escape routes, and many were cut down or drowned as they tried to cross the fast-flowing river.

Twenty-eight-year-old Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, found his luck had finally run out and following his capture he was promptly executed in Hexham.

In Graham Turner's painting, Henry Beaufort and his soldiers urgently prepare themselves to face Montagu's attack, while Lords Roos and Hungerford are already mounted and look set to flee. They wouldn't remain free for long, being captured very soon after and joining a group of others executed in Newcastle two days later. Around twenty others would be similarly dispatched - any ideas of clemency Edward might have previously held had clearly worn out.

Having lost his armour at Durham, Somerset wears a relatively simple Italian harness (in contrast to the English harness Graham depicted him wearing at the Second Battle of St Albans), perhaps acquired at Bamburgh Castle.

Original gouache painting by Graham Turner - image size 23.2"x 16.5" (59cm x 42cm) Note: When framed with a mount, the overall picture size will be larger. Painting is priced unframed.

click on image to enlarge

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Price: 2,775.00

Graham Turner's Original Paintings are offered for sale by the artist himself, rather than through Studio 88, which is our print publishing business. Consequently, payment directly to him is preferred. If you are interested in purchasing an original painting, please email Graham Turner at to discuss the purchase or to arrange to visit.

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The Battle of Hexham print

High quality artist-signed prints are available reproduced from Graham Turner's painting of the Battle of Hexham - CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS
The Battle of Hexham - Print from a painting by Graham Turner
(Left) Hexham battlefield today.

(Below) Devil's Water.

Photos taken by Graham Turner during a visit to the likely site of the Battle of Hexham, courtesy of the landowners.
Devils Water


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