MUSKET FIRE was heard over Worcester on Wednesday evening, followed by a minute's silence for those who fell during the very last battle of the English Civil War.

The annual Drumhead March and Service is organised by the Battle of Worcester Society, and it begins with a muster at the Commandery, which was Royalist HQ during the decisive Battle of Worcester, of September, 1651.

The aim of the Battle of Worcester Society is to "pay respects to those that died on both sides of the Civil War and make a concerted effort to protect one of England's most important pieces of heritage".

David Nash, commandery manager, said: "There were at least 100 people watching at Fort Royal. At the Commandery, we had at least 90 people, beforehand."

The march to the fort from the Commandery, to the tap of a drum, is a re-enactment of the actual march to war for the Royalists, because the important fortified mound was supplied from the Commandery during the battle.

Mr Nash said: "At the fort, three soldiers from the Battle of Worcester Society fired their muskets for a minute's silence, and again to mark the end of the silence."

Fighting around the strategically-important hill was particularly fierce in 1651, in an uneven battle which pitched Cromwell's 30,000 Parliamentarians against just 13,000 to 15,000 Royalists.

The outcome was never really in doubt, and Fort Royal was taken by the Parliamentarians the city walls were threatened by Cromwell's artillery.

The defeated Charles II fled to France and remained in exile for eight and a half years, until the Restoration.

For the second President of the United States, John Adams, who visited Worcester in the eighteenth century, Fort Royal was a place to be revered by lovers of liberty, - much as the Alamo in Texas was shortly to be, after the famous last stand against overwhelming Mexican forces.

Despite the face that, in the case of Fort Royal, it was the Royalists who had faced overwhelming odds, Adams wrote: "Do Englishmen so soon forget the ground where liberty was fought for? Tell your neighbours and your children, this is holy ground. All England should come in pilgrimage to this hill, once a year."

And once a year, the pilgrims do indeed come, thanks to the Battle of Worcester Society.