THE Seventeenth century will come alive in Ringwood next month with the recreation of the bloody civil war when the Roundheads defeated the Cavaliers.

History buffs and residents are counting the days until the town becomes a spectrum of colour and excitement at the Ringwood Festival.

The two-week festival, which kicks off on July 8, will feature a rich mix of comedy, concerts and enough international cuisine to tickle the taste buds of any visitor.

But the undoubted highlight will be the appearance of the Sealed Knot Society, which will bring to life Ringwood's biggest brush with history.

Roundheads (Parliamentarians) and Cavaliers (Royalists) will line up against each other en-mass as the turbulent times of the 1685 Monmouth Rebellion are re-enacted in a spectacular two-day display of colour and sound at the Bickerley and in the Market Place.

Large camps will also be set up at the former Wellworthy site and on the Bickerley where the two armies will prepare to do battle.

The re-enactment is the brainchild of festival committee chairman and town mayor Danny Cracknell, who said the event would be a highlight of Ringwood's social calendar.

He said: "This will be the best festival Ringwood has had and will be of benefit to the people of Ringwood.

"Ringwood is my first love and events like this really bring atmosphere to the town.

"The battles will be wonderful for school children as well as tourists, residents and, of course, the traders.

"This is something that we have always wanted to do and we are doing it in style this year as the festival looks set to be the biggest."

Large crowds are expected to flock to the town on July 8 and 9 to witness the recreation of Ringwood's most notorious events the Battle of Sedgemoor and the Monmouth Rebellion.

Sedgemoor was the last battle to be fought on English soil and its reported that 1,384 rebels were killed, compared to 50 of King James's army.

The Duke of Monmouth was captured at nearby Horton Heath after fleeing from defeat at the battle. The King's retribution was the Bloody Assize where hundreds were put to death for their part in the rebellion.

The duke was brought to Ringwood where he was imprisoned and interrogated in a house owned by the vicar, the Rev Joseph Layton.

During his stay, the duke wrote to the King, begging for mercy. However, the following day, he was taken to London for execution on Tower Hill.

The duke was held at Monmouth House, on West Street. The house still bears a plaque marking the occasion.

It states: "Following his defeat at the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685, the Duke of Monmouth was held at this house prior to execution at the Tower of London."