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Escape of Charles II

Escape of Charles II

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The Escape of Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

from England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1651 is a key episode in his life. Although it took only six weeks, it had a major effect on his attitudes for the rest of his life.

The fugitive king

Charles had lost to Cromwell's
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 New Model Army
New Model Army
The New Model Army of England was formed in 1645 by the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War, and was disbanded in 1660 after the Restoration...

 at the Battle of Worcester
Battle of Worcester
The Battle of Worcester took place on 3 September 1651 at Worcester, England and was the final battle of the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalist, predominantly Scottish, forces of King Charles II...

 on 3 September 1651 and was a wanted man. A reward of £1,000 was offered for the capture of the King, and it is likely that the King and anyone helping him would have been executed for treason, if caught. The King had a distinctive appearance: very swarthy and six foot two inches tall (1.88 metres), at a time when most men were under 5'10. Furthermore there were cavalry patrols specifically tasked with finding the King. Fortunately for Charles, the Catholics had an organisation with 90 years of experience in keeping secrets and hiding people. However, it was also illegal for Catholics to travel more than five miles away from their homes without a pass from the Sheriff of the County, increasing the hazards faced by those who helped him.

Flight from Worcester

Charles fled the city of Worcester in the company of Lord Wilmot
Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester
Lieutenant-General Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester , known as The Lord Wilmot between 1643 and 1644 and as The Viscount Wilmot between 1644 and 1652, was an English Cavalier who fought for the Royalist cause during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.-Early life:Wilmot's family was descended from...

, Lord Derby
James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby
James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby KG was a supporter of the Royalist cause in the English Civil War.Born at Knowsley, he is sometimes styled the Great Earl of Derby, eldest son of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby and Lady Elizabeth de Vere. During his father's life he was known as Lord Strange...

, Charles Giffard (or Gifford) and many others. Charles decided to head into Shropshire
Shropshire is a county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. It borders Wales to the west...

, a Catholic stronghold with many hiding places. They stopped after five miles at an inn in Ombersley
The village of Ombersley is in the Wychavon District Council area of Worcestershire.The first known reference to the village was the granting of a Charter to Abbot Egwin, later Saint Egwin, of Evesham Abbey in 706 AD. This was the Charter of King Æthelweard of the Hwicce, which granted twelve...

 (now the Kings Arms) for refreshments. It was felt that it would be safer for the King to travel almost alone and so he left the main group near Hartlebury
Hartlebury is a village in Worcestershire, England. It is a few miles south of Kidderminster and is in Wychavon district. The village registered a population of 2,549 in the Census 2001.The railway station is about half a mile to the east of the village....

 where the road forks. Charles headed right, towards Stourbridge. Lord Derby went left with the main group towards Kidderminster only to be routed by a troop of Parliamentary cavalry. Derby was captured and later executed.

Charles continued on towards Stourbridge
Stourbridge is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, in the West Midlands of England. Historically part of Worcestershire, Stourbridge was a centre of glass making, and today includes the suburbs of Amblecote, Lye, Norton, Oldswinford, Pedmore, Wollaston, Wollescote and Wordsley The...

 through the parish of Chaddesley Corbett
Chaddesley Corbett
Chaddesley Corbett is a village and civil parish in the Wyre Forest District of Worcestershire, England. The civil parish also includes the settlements of Bluntington, Brockencote, Mustow Green, Cakebole, Outwood, Harvington, and Drayton....

 and past the parishes of Hagley
Hagley is a village and civil parish on the northern boundary of Worcestershire, England, near to the towns of Kidderminster and Stourbridge. The parish had a population of 4,283 in 2001, but the whole village had a population of perhaps 5,600, including the part in Clent parish...

 and Pedmore
Pedmore is a residential suburb of Stourbridge in the West Midlands of England. It was originally a village in the Worcestershire countryside until extensive housebuilding during the interwar years saw it gradually merged into Stourbridge.- Amenities :...

. Stourbridge was garrisoned by Parliamentary troops but Charles was able to pass without the alarm being sounded, (it has also been suggested that Charles took a slightly different route and did not cross the Stour
River Stour, Worcestershire
The Stour is a river flowing through the counties of Worcestershire, the West Midlands and Staffordshire in the West Midlands region of England. The Stour is a major tributary of the River Severn, and it is about in length...

 at Stourbridge but near a village called Wolverley
Wolverley is a village, and with Cookley together, a civil parish in the Wyre Forest District of Worcestershire, England. It is located a few miles to the north west of Kidderminster, near the town of Bewdley, and the villages of Kinver and Cookley...

 after passing through a dell below Lea Castle and over Hay Bridge). Tradition has it the King halted at Whittington Manor, now the Whittington Inn on the A449. From there he passed through Kinver
Kinver is a large village in South Staffordshire district, Staffordshire, England. It is in the far south-west of the county, at the end of the narrow finger of land surrounded by the counties of Shropshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands. The nearest towns are Stourbridge in the West...

 into Staffordsire. The party stopped again at Wordsley
Wordsley with Buckpool is a village south of Kingswinford although is the most northern suburb of Stourbridge in the West Midlands, England. Wordsley still retains its rural character because it abuts open countryside...

 before arriving at White Ladies Priory
White Ladies Priory
White Ladies Priory , once the Priory of St Leonard at Brewood, was an English priory of Augustinian canonesses, now in ruins, in Shropshire, in the parish of Boscobel, some eight miles northwest of Wolverhampton, near Junction 3 of the M54 motorway...

 on Giffard’s estate at Boscobel
Boscobel is a very small civil parish in the east of Shropshire, England, on the border with Staffordshire. To the north is the Staffordshire village of Bishops Wood....

 in the early hours of 4 September.

Boscobel to Bentley

The houses on the estate were looked after by servants. Five Catholic brothers called Pendrell (also Pendrill or Penderel) lived on the Boscobel Estate. At White Ladies the King was met by George Pendrell who called his brother, Richard, from his farm, Hobbal Grange, at Tong
-Chinese:*Tang Dynasty, a dynasty in Chinese history when transliterated from Cantonese*Tong , a type of social organization found in Chinese immigrant communities*tong, pronunciation of several Chinese characters*See:...

. They disguised the King as a woodsman and his long hair was cut. For safety he and Richard Pendrell hid in Spring Coppice in the estate. Shortly after the King had left the Priory, a company of soldiers, rode up and ransacked the place in the search for the King.

Charles recalled: "'In this wood I stayed all day without meat or drink and by great fortune it rained all the time which hindered them, as I believe, from coming into the wood to search for men that might be fled there.'"

After dark Richard Pendrell took Charles to Hobball Grange where he had a meal and then immediately set off Madeley
Madeley, Shropshire
Madeley is a town and civil parish in Shropshire, England, now part of the new town of Telford. The parish had a population of 17,935 at the 2001 census.Madeley is recorded in the Domesday Book, having been founded before the 8th century...

, hoping to cross the River Severn
River Severn
The River Severn is the longest river in Great Britain, at about , but the second longest on the British Isles, behind the River Shannon. It rises at an altitude of on Plynlimon, Ceredigion near Llanidloes, Powys, in the Cambrian Mountains of mid Wales...

 into Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 where the Royalists had strong support. At Evelith Mill they were challenged by the miller and the pair fled. (Some accounts have the miller chasing them down the lane.)

At Madeley Francis Wolfe provided a barn for Charles to hide in, while Richard and Francis Wolfe scouted the Severn crossings, but they found that the Severn was very closely guarded, so Charles and Richard returned to Boscobel
Boscobel is a very small civil parish in the east of Shropshire, England, on the border with Staffordshire. To the north is the Staffordshire village of Bishops Wood....

, arriving early on 6 September. On the same day a Colonel William Careless
William Careless (Carlos)
Colonel William Careless was a Royalist officer of the English Civil War. It has been estimated that he was born c. 1620, however, it is more likely that he was born c. 1610. He was the second son of John Careless of Broom Hall, Brewood, Staffordshire...

 (or Carlis), who had fought at Worcester, also arrived at Boscobel House where William Pendrell was a caretaker. He and the King spent all day hiding in a nearby oak tree (The Royal Oak) and then Charles spent the night in one of Boscobel House’s priest-holes.

Late in the evening of 7 September Charles left Boscobel for Moseley Old Hall
Moseley Old Hall
Moseley Old Hall is a National Trust property located in Fordhouses, north of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom. It is famous as one of the resting places of Charles II of England during his escape to France following defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.-Background:The Hall was built in...

 at the suggestion of Wilmot who was staying there. Humphrey Pendrell was the local miller and provided Charles with the old mill horse. The King was accompanied by all five Pendrell brothers and Francis Yates (servant to Charles Giffard and brother-in-law to the Pendrells). Soon after leaving Boscobel the horse stumbled, and Humphrey Pendrell joked that it was “not to be wondered at, for it had the weight of three kingdoms upon its back”. The party stopped at Pendeford Mill
Pendeford is a suburb of Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. It is situated NNW of the city centre, adjacent to the border with Staffordshire, within the Oxley ward of Wolverhampton City Council.- Name and origins :...

 where Charles dismounted, as it was unsafe to continue riding. Three Pendrells took the horse back, while Richard and John Pendrell with Francis Yates continued with the King to Moseley Old Hall, which was the home of Thomas Whitgreave.

At Moseley Charles was given a meal and dry clothes. A Catholic priest, Father John Huddleston
John Huddleston
Father John Huddleston was a monk of the Order of St. Benedict who helped Charles II during his escape and was present when Charles converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed.- Early life and education :...

, bathed the King’s bruised and bleeding feet. Charles spent the night and the next two days hiding at Moseley Hall, sleeping in a bed for the first time since 3 September. Later that morning he saw some of his fleeing Scottish troops passing by.

Parliamentary troops arrived at Moseley Hall and accused Thomas Whitgreave of fighting for the King at Worcester, which he had not done (though he had fought as a Royalist before being wounded and captured at Naseby
Naseby is a small village in the District of Daventry in Northamptonshire, England.The village is 14 mi north of Northampton, 13.3 mi northeast of Daventry, and 7 mi south of Market Harborough. It is 2.4 mi from Junction 2 of the A14 road, giving it access to the national road system...

 in 1645). However, they were eventually convinced that Whitgreave had not fought and went away, without searching the house, but the King no longer felt safe at Moseley Hall. Shortly after midnight on 10 September Charles left Moseley Hall and went to Bentley Hall
Bentley, West Midlands
Bentley is an area in the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall located around Junction 10 of the M6 Motorway. It shares borders with the areas of Willenhall, Beechdale, Ashmore Park, Pleck, Darlaston and Alumwell.- History :...

 near Walsall
Walsall is a large industrial town in the West Midlands of England. It is located northwest of Birmingham and east of Wolverhampton. Historically a part of Staffordshire, Walsall is a component area of the West Midlands conurbation and part of the Black Country.Walsall is the administrative...


Bentley to Trent

Colonel John Lane lived at Bentley Hall. He had been an officer in the Royalist Army since 1642. His sister was Jane Lane
Jane Lane, Lady Fisher
Jane Lane played a heroic role in the Escape of Charles II in 1651. The main significance of the story is the key part that the escape played in forming the character and the opinions of Charles.-Origins:...

. At Moseley Wilmot learned that Jane had obtained a permit from the military for herself and a servant to travel to Abbot's Leigh, Somerset, to visit a friend who was having a baby. Abbot's Leigh also lay just across the Avon Gorge from the important seaport of Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

. Lord Wilmot saw the opportunity of escaping through Bristol in the guise of the servant. On learning of the King's failure to reach Wales, Wilmot decided that the King should take advantage of the military pass and travel to Bristol as Jane Lane's servant, and then find a ship to take him to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...


When the King reached Bentley Hall in the early morning of 10 September he was quickly dressed as a tenant farmer’s son and adopted the alias ‘William Jackson’ for the next part of his journey. The party then set out, Charles riding the same horse as Jane Lane. They were accompanied by Withy Petre (Jane Lane’s sister), her husband John Petre, and Henry Lascelles, another related Royalist officer.

Lord Wilmot refused to travel in disguise; he rode openly half a mile ahead of the party and if challenged he said he would claim to be out hunting. This was a brave and useful decoy. The party rode through Rowley Regis
Rowley Regis
Rowley Regis is a town in the Sandwell metropolitan borough of the West Midlands county and a part of the Black Country in the United Kingdom. Being part of the Black Country, locals speak with the traditional dialect, though in a form regarded by many as the quickest and the hardest to...

 then Quinton
Quinton may refer to:*Quinton Andrews, American football player*Anthony Quinton, a philosopher*A. R. Quinton, an English watercolour artist*Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, an American Mixed Martial Artist*René Quinton, a French naturalist...

 to Bromsgrove
Bromsgrove is a town in Worcestershire, England. The town is about north east of Worcester and south west of Birmingham city centre. It had a population of 29,237 in 2001 with a small ethnic minority and is in Bromsgrove District.- History :Bromsgrove is first documented in the early 9th century...

. When they arrived at Bromsgrove they found that the horse ridden by Charles and Jane had lost a shoe. The King, playing the role of servant, took the horse to a blacksmith.

The King when he later told his story to Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

 and others said, "As I was holding my horse's foot, I asked the smith what news. He told me that there was no news that he knew of, since the good news of the beating the rogues of the Scots. I asked him whether there was none of the English taken that joined with the Scots, He answered he did not hear if that rogue, Charles Stuart, were taken; but some of the others, he said, were taken. I told him that if that rogue were taken, he deserved to be hanged more than all the rest, for bringing in the Scots. Upon which he said I spoke like an honest man; and so we parted."

The party reached Wootton Wawen
Wootton Wawen
Wootton Wawen is a small village and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon district of Warwickshire, England. The village is located on the A3400, from Birmingham, miles south of Henley-in-Arden and miles north of Stratford-upon-Avon. The soil is a strong clay and some arable crops are grown,...

 where cavalry had gathered outside the inn. Here John and Withy Petre went ahead of the party. The King, Jane and Henry Lascelles with great coolness rode through the troops and then on to Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, south east of Birmingham and south west of Warwick. It is the largest and most populous town of the District of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term "on" to indicate that it covers...

, where they spent the night of 10 September at the house of John Tomes, another relation of Jane’s.

On Thursday 11 September they continued through Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden
Chipping Campden is a small market town within the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. It is notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century...

 and then to Cirencester
Cirencester is a market town in east Gloucestershire, England, 93 miles west northwest of London. Cirencester lies on the River Churn, a tributary of the River Thames, and is the largest town in the Cotswold District. It is the home of the Royal Agricultural College, the oldest agricultural...

, where it is claimed they spent the night of 11 September at the Crown Inn. The next morning they travelled on to Chipping Sodbury
Chipping Sodbury
Chipping Sodbury is a market town in the county of South Gloucestershire, south-west England, founded in the 12th century by William Crassus . The villages of Old Sodbury and Little Sodbury are nearby...

 and then to Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

, arriving at Abbots Leigh
Abbots Leigh
Abbots Leigh is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, about west of the centre of Bristol.-History:The original Middle English name was Lega and the village became Abbots Leigh in the mid 12th century when Robert Fitzharding , who acquired the village as Lord of the Manor, gave the...

 on the evening of 12 September. They stayed at the home of Mr and Mrs George Norton, who were also Jane’s friends. The Nortons were unaware of the King's identity during his three-day stay at Abbotsleigh. While staying there Charles deflected suspicion by asking a servant, who had been in the King's personal guard at the Battle of Worcester, to describe the King's appearance and clothing at the battle. The man looked at Charles and said, "The King was at least three fingers taller than [you]."
Attempts were made to find a ship from Bristol to France but without success. Charles and Wilmot therefore decided to make for the south coast with Jane. On the morning of 16 September Charles set out and reached the Manor House, Castle Cary
Castle Cary
Castle Cary is a market town and civil parish in south Somerset, England, north west of Wincanton and south of Shepton Mallet.The town is situated on the River Cary, a tributary of the Parrett.-History:...

. The next day they reached Trent
Trent, Dorset
Trent is a village in north west Dorset, England, situated in the Yeo valley four miles north west of Sherborne and four miles north east of Yeovil. It was formerly in Somerset...

 near Sherborne
Sherborne is a market town in northwest Dorset, England. It is sited on the River Yeo, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, east of Yeovil. The A30 road, which connects London to Penzance, runs through the town. The population of the town is 9,350 . 27.1% of the population is aged 65 or...

. They stayed at Trent House, the home of Colonel Francis Wyndham
Sir Francis Wyndham, 1st Baronet
Sir Francis Wyndham, 1st Baronet was an English soldier and politician who sat in the House of Commons of England in 1640...

, another Royalist officer. The King spent the next few days hiding at Trent while Wyndham and Wilmot attempted to find a ship from Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis is a coastal town in West Dorset, England, situated 25 miles west of Dorchester and east of Exeter. The town lies in Lyme Bay, on the English Channel coast at the Dorset-Devon border...

 or Weymouth. It was while he was at Trent that the King witnessed a bizarre event where the local villagers were celebrating, believing that he had been killed at Worcester. It was also this point that Jane Lane and Lascelles returned home.

On 22 September Charles rode with Juliana Coningsby, a niece of Lady Wyndham to Charmouth
Charmouth is a village at the mouth of the River Char in West Dorset, England, with a population of 1,687 according to the 2001 census.-The village:...

, pretending to be a runaway couple. Charles waited at the Queen’s Arms Inn while Wilmot negotiated with a Captain Limbry take them to France. Limbry was prevented by his wife from turning up, having (according to him) been locked into his bedroom by his wife, who was afraid for his safety. The next day he narrowly escaped capture by hiding in Lee Lane at Bridport
Bridport is a market town in Dorset, England. Located near the coast at the western end of Chesil Beach at the confluence of the River Brit and its Asker and Simene tributaries, it originally thrived as a fishing port and rope-making centre...

, Dorset. A memorial stone, erected at the spot, commemorates the event.

The King then travelled via Bridport
Bridport is a market town in Dorset, England. Located near the coast at the western end of Chesil Beach at the confluence of the River Brit and its Asker and Simene tributaries, it originally thrived as a fishing port and rope-making centre...

 to Broadwindsor
Broadwindsor is a village in west Dorset, England, two miles west of Beaminster. The village has a population of 1,218 .Broadwindsor was also formerly a liberty, containing only the parish itself....

, spending the night at The George Inn owned by Rhys Jones. The local constable then arrived with 40 soldiers who were to be billeted at the inn. Fortunately one of the women travelling with the soldiers went into labour. The locals feared that the parish would be forced to pay for the child’s upbringing and this caused a row which diverted attention, allowing the King to escape. On the evening of 24 September the King returned to Trent House.

Trent to France

Charles spent the next few weeks in hiding at Trent House while his friends tried to arrange a passage to France. Wilmot went to Salisbury
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England and the only city in the county. It is the second largest settlement in the county...

 to contact known Royalists, including Colonel Edward Phelips of Montacute House
Montacute House
Montacute House is a late Elizabethan country house situated in the South Somerset village of Montacute. This house is a textbook example of English architecture during a period that was moving from the medieval Gothic to the Renaissance Classical; this has resulted in Montacute being regarded as...

 and John Coventry, son of the former Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
Great Seal of the Realm
The Great Seal of the Realm or Great Seal of the United Kingdom is a seal that is used to symbolise the Sovereign's approval of important state documents...

. Passage was booked on a ship from Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 on 29 September, but the ship was commandeered to transport troops to Jersey
Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. As well as the island of Jersey itself, the bailiwick includes two groups of small islands that are no longer permanently inhabited, the Minquiers and Écréhous, and the Pierres de Lecq and...

. Phillips, Coventry and a Doctor Henchman of Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an Anglican cathedral in Salisbury, England, considered one of the leading examples of Early English architecture....

 then decided to try the Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 coast, and contacted Colonel George Gunter of Racton
Racton is a hamlet in the Chichester district of West Sussex, England. It lies on the B2147 road 2.1 miles northeast of Emsworth and within the civil parish of Stoughton. The hamlet lies along the River Ems. 0.4 miles north of the hamlet is the Racton Monument, constructed between 1766 and 1775...

 between Havant
Havant is a town in south east Hampshire on the South coast of England, between Portsmouth and Chichester. It gives its name to the borough comprising the town and the surrounding area. The town has rapidly grown since the end of the Second World War.It has good railway connections to London,...

 and Chichester
Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex, within the historic County of Sussex, South-East England. It has a long history as a settlement; its Roman past and its subsequent importance in Anglo-Saxon times are only its beginnings...


On the 6 October the King, Julia Coningsby and Henry Peters, Colonel Wyndham’s servant, left Trent for the home of Mrs Amphillis Hyde at Heale House between Salisbury
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England and the only city in the county. It is the second largest settlement in the county...

 and Amesbury
Amesbury is a town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. It is most famous for the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge which is in its parish, and for the discovery of the Amesbury Archer—dubbed the King of Stonehenge in the press—in 2002...

. Though sleeping at Heale, Charles spent his days at Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

, returning to the house each evening after dark. On 7 October Wilmot visited Colonel Gunter, who found a French merchant, Francis Mancell. Together they made arrangements with a Captain Nicholas Tattersell to carry the King and Wilmot from Shoreham
Shoreham-by-Sea is a small town, port and seaside resort in West Sussex, England. Shoreham-by-Sea railway station is located less than a mile from the town centre and London Gatwick Airport is away...

 near Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

 in a coal boat called the Surprise for £80.

The King, Wilmot and Gunter set out for Shoreham on 14 October arriving on 15 October. Gunter knew that The George Inn in Brighton was a safe place to spend the night. At the inn while negotiating with Captain Tattersell, Charles was recognised by the inn-keeper who was drunk and who fell on his knees. The captain realising who he would be carrying, demanded an additional £200 as danger-money. On 16 October the King and Lord Wilmot landed in France at Fécamp
Fécamp is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:Fécamp is situated in the valley of the river Valmont, at the heart of the Pays de Caux, on the Albaster Coast...

, near Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

. Only hours after the King sailed, a troop of cavalry arrived in Shoreham to arrest him. The escape from England is commemorated each year with a yacht race from Brighton to Fecamp The Royal Escape Race organised by the Sussex Yacht Club http://www.royalescaperace.co.uk.

Next day Charles went to Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 and then to Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 to stay with his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria. The King did not return to England for nine years. The death of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 in 1658 was followed by two years of political confusion, which led to the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 of the monarchy in 1660.

When he returned to England in 1660 the King granted various annuities and gifts to the people such as the Pendrill brothers and Jane Lane for their services. They were summoned to Whitehall Palace to attend the King and did so for a number of years. For Thomas Whitgreave and Richard Pendrell, Charles created annual pensions of £200 to be paid to them and £100 to the descendants of Richard Pendrell in perpetuity. At some point the Whitgreave pension lapsed (it may never have actually been paid) and so did Jane Lane's because she had no children. The other Pendrell brothers also received lesser pensions. The pensions to the Pendrells are still being paid to a number of their descendants today.

The families who helped the King were awarded Coats of Arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

. The Pendrill Arms are the same as those awarded to Colonel Carlis, but with a silver field and black fesse. The crest is distinguished by a royal crown encircling the crossed sword and sceptre. The Lanes' Coat of Arms was modified to show the three lions of England.

In 1664 the King's birthday of 29 May was designated Oak Apple Day
Oak Apple Day
Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day was a holiday celebrated in England on 29 May to commemorate the restoration of the English monarchy, in May 1660...

, by Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 and a special service was inserted in the Book of Common Prayer
Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 , in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English...

. For over 200 years the King's birthday was celebrated by the wearing of a sprig of oak leaves in remembrance of the events. This tradition is no longer observed, although hundreds of inns and public houses throughout the country are still called The Royal Oak after the famous escape.

A series of inaccurate paintings by Isaac Fuller
Isaac Fuller
-Life:Fuller is said to have studied first in France under François Perrier, probably at the new academy in Paris, under whom he acquired some style from copying the antique. But he was too fond of the tavern. He resided for some time at Oxford. In London Fuller was much employed in decorative...

 was commissioned shortly after the Restoration to record the episodes such as the oak tree, the King's night ride to Moseley Hall and pillion ride south with Jane Lane. These are on display in the Banqueting House
Banqueting House
In Tudor and Early Stuart English architecture a banqueting house is a separate building reached through pleasure gardens from the main residence, whose use is purely for entertaining. It may be raised for additional air or a vista, and it may be richly decorated, but it contains no bedrooms or...

 in Whitehall
Whitehall is a road in Westminster, in London, England. It is the main artery running north from Parliament Square, towards Charing Cross at the southern end of Trafalgar Square...

 in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...



For much of the time without courtiers and troops, Charles had to rely on his own wits to avoid capture. He was a nerveless actor, though he made a few mistakes early in his role as a tenant farmer's son. His performance gave him the confidence in later life to be his 'own man'. For six weeks Charles also experienced ordinary life, which most kings never saw, and learned to appreciate all people, rich and poor. He became a King without 'airs and graces' and took a great interest in ordinary people as can been seen by his actions after the Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall...


The events made such an impression on Charles that in later years he loved to recount the exact details to people, including: Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon was an English historian and statesman, and grandfather of two English monarchs, Mary II and Queen Anne.-Early life:...

, his doctor (Dr. George Bate
George Bate
George Bate was an English court physician.Bate graduated with an M.D. from St Edmund Hall, Oxford in 1637. Three years late he treated Charles I in Oxford. He was physician to Oliver Cromwell and his family, physician to Charles II, and a Fellow of the Royal Society...

), and to Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys
Samuel Pepys FRS, MP, JP, was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man...

 who each recorded what they were told, with few discrepancies between each version. This is why such detail, sometimes hour by hour, is known. Charles also saw that Catholics would take great risks for him and developed a great respect for them and their plight. On his deathbed, he became a Catholic.

The Monarch's Way Long Distance Footpath

The Monarch's Way
Monarch's Way
The Monarch's Way is a long-distance footpath in England that approximates the escape route taken by King Charles II in 1651 after being defeated in the Battle of Worcester.Most of the footpath is waymarked...

, a 615 mile waymarked footpath, based on the escape route starts at the battlefield at Worcester
The City of Worcester, commonly known as Worcester, , is a city and county town of Worcestershire in the West Midlands of England. Worcester is situated some southwest of Birmingham and north of Gloucester, and has an approximate population of 94,000 people. The River Severn runs through the...

 finishing at Shoreham
Shoreham is the name of several different places:* Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK** Shoreham 1974–1997** New Shoreham 1295–1885* Shoreham, Kent, UK* Shoreham, Michigan, USA...


In fiction

The escape of Charles II following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester is the subject of William Harrison Ainsworth
William Harrison Ainsworth
William Harrison Ainsworth was an English historical novelist born in Manchester. He trained as a lawyer, but the legal profession held no attraction for him. While completing his legal studies in London he met the publisher John Ebers, at that time manager of the King's Theatre, Haymarket...

's 1871 novel Boscobel, or, The Royal Oak. Georgette Heyer's novel, Royal Escape, published in 1938 also tells the tale.

Gillian Bagwell's novel The September Queen recounts the parts of Charles's escape during which he was accompanied by Jane Lane, her subsequent discovery and escape to France, the years she spent in Holland in the court of Mary of Orange before Charles was restored, and her relationship with Charles throughout. Charles recounts some of the rest of his adventures in the book, which will be released in the U.S. on November 1, 2011, and in the U.K. in July 2012 under the title The Royal Exile.

In Film

The Moonraker
The Moonraker
The Moonraker is a 1958 British historical drama film set during the English Civil War. It was directed by David MacDonald and starred George Baker, Sylvia Sims, Marius Goring, Gary Raymond, Peter Arne, John Le Mesurier and Patrick Troughton....

, a 1958 British historical drama film set during the English Civil War. It was directed by David MacDonald and starred Patrick Fenlon, George Baker, Sylvia Sims, Marius Goring, Gary Raymond, Peter Arne, John Le Mesurier and Patrick Troughton. The film depicts a fictionalised account of the Escape of Charles II following the Battle of Worcester.

Further reading

  • Thomas Blount: Boscobel or the History of His Sacred Majesties Most Miraculous Preservation Available in various formats at Internet Archive, this is the earliest, not entirely reliable account, of the escape of Charles II, published shortly after the Restoration in 1660.
  • William Matthews, ed. "Charles II’s Escape from Worcester". Presents Pepys’s transcription of Charles’s account and his edited version side by side, as well as other contemporary accounts.
  • Richard Ollard. "The Escape of Charles II After the Battle of Worcester."
  • A. M. Broadley. "The Royal Miracle: A Collection of Rare Tracts, Broadsides, Letters, Prints, & Ballads Concerning the Wanderings of Charles II After the Battle of Worcester." 1912. This also chronicles the delightfully daffy 1911 reenactment of the events.
  • Alan Fea. "The Flight of the King." 1897 and 1908 editions.
  • Allan Fea. "After Worcester Fight."
  • H.P. Kingston. "The Wanderings of Charles II in Staffordshire and Shropshire"
  • Jean Gordon Hughes. "A King in the Oak Tree"