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Royal Oak

Royal Oak

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The Royal Oak is the English oak tree within which King 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...

 of England hid to escape
Escape of Charles II
The Escape of Charles II from England 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:...

 the Roundheads following 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...

 in 1651. The tree was located in 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....

 Wood, which was part of the park of Boscobel House
Boscobel House
Boscobel House is a building in the parish of Boscobel in Shropshire, as is clear from all Ordnance Survey maps, although the boundary of the property is contiguous with the county's boundary with Staffordshire, and it has a Stafford post code. It is near the city of Wolverhampton...

. Charles confirmed 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...

 in 1680 that while he was hiding in the tree, a Parliamentarian soldier passed directly below it. The story was popular after 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...

, and is remembered every year in the English traditions of Royal Oak Day. Numerous large dishes painted in slip with the Boscobel Oak, supported by the Lion and Unicorn, with the king's face peeping from the branches were made by the Staffordshire
Staffordshire is a landlocked 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. Part of the National Forest lies within its borders...

 potter Thomas Toft
Thomas Toft
Thomas Toft was an English potter working in the Staffordshire Potteries during the 17th century.-Pottery Work:It is thought that Toft operated in the Burslem district during at least 1671-1689...



After the defeat of Charles's Royalist
Cavalier was the name used by Parliamentarians for a Royalist supporter of King Charles I and son Charles II during the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration...

 army at the hands of 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....

's 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...

, the King fled with 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...

, 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...

 and other royalists, seeking shelter at the safe houses of 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...

 and Boscobel House
Boscobel House
Boscobel House is a building in the parish of Boscobel in Shropshire, as is clear from all Ordnance Survey maps, although the boundary of the property is contiguous with the county's boundary with Staffordshire, and it has a Stafford post code. It is near the city of Wolverhampton...


Initially, Charles was led to 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...

 by Charles Giffard, a cousin of the owner, and his servant Francis Yates, the only man subsequently executed for his part in the escape. There, the Penderel (Pendrell or Pendrill) family, tenants and servants of the Giffard family began to play important roles in guiding and caring for him. The King was disguised as a woodman by Charles Giffard and the Penderel family. From White Ladies, Richard Penderel led Charles in an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Severn near Madeley, Shropshire
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...

. They were forced to retrace their steps and Charles took refuge at Boscobel. On the 6th September 1651, he there met with 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), a native of nearby Brewood
Brewood refers both to a settlement, which was once a town but is now a village, in South Staffordshire, England, and to the civil parish of which it is the centre. Located around , Brewood village lies near the River Penk, eight miles north of Wolverhampton city centre and eleven miles south of...

, one of the last royalists to escape the battlefield. Careless's rank is variously reported as Captain, Major and Colonel.
Careless suggested that the house was unsafe and recommended that the king hide in an oak tree in the woodlands surrounding Boscobel House. The king and Careless took some food and drink and they spent all day hiding in a pollarded oak tree which became known as the Royal Oak. From the oak they could see patrols of Parliamentary soldiers searching for the king. Later Charles spent the night hiding in one of Boscobel’s Priest hole
Priest hole
"Priest hole" is the term given to hiding places for priests built into many of the principal Catholic houses of England during the period when Catholics were persecuted by law in England, from the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1558....

s. He was then moved from Boscobel to 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...

, another Catholic redoubt near Wolverhampton, and ultimately escaped the region posing as the servant of 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:...

 of Bentley
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 :...

, whose family were also landowners at Broom Hall and the Hyde in Brewood.

After the Restoration in 1660 Charles granted annuities to the Penderels for their services (still paid to their descendants to this day) and for Careless's help during the escape from Worcester and for other services he was made a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, and Charles, by letters patent, granted Careless the new surname of Carlos (Spanish for Charles) and a new "appropriate" coat of arms. The Penderels and Colonel Careless employed 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...

 depicting an oak tree and three royal crowns
Crown (headgear)
A crown is the traditional symbolic form of headgear worn by a monarch or by a deity, for whom the crown traditionally represents power, legitimacy, immortality, righteousness, victory, triumph, resurrection, honour and glory of life after death. In art, the crown may be shown being offered to...

, differentiated by colour.

Current situation

The site of the tree is adjacent to Boscobel House, but is not owned by English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

, as the house is: the surrounding land is actually owned and farmed by Francis Yates Partners, who allow the public access along a path from the garden of the house. The tree standing on the site today is not the original Royal Oak, which is recorded to have been destroyed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by tourists who cut off branches and chunks as souvenirs. The present day tree is believed to be a two or three hundred-year old descendant of the original and is thus known as 'Son of Royal Oak'.

In 2000, Son of Royal Oak was badly injured during a violent storm and lost many branches. In September 2010, it was found to have developed large and dangerous cracks. The 2011 season opened with the tree surrounded by a wooden outer perimeter fence to ensure the safety of visitors.

A number of other trees have been ceremonially planted nearby as daughters or descendants of the Royal Oak. In 1897, a tree was planted on the western edge of the garden of Boscobel House by Augustus Legge
Augustus Legge
The Right Reverend The Honourable Augustus Legge DD , was Bishop of Lichfield from 1891 until 1913.-Biography:...

, then bishop of Lichfield
Bishop of Lichfield
The Bishop of Lichfield is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Lichfield in the Province of Canterbury.The diocese covers 4,516 km² of the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and West Midlands. The bishop's seat is located in the Cathedral Church of the Blessed...

, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee
Diamond Jubilee
A Diamond Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 60th anniversary in the case of a person or a 75th anniversary in the case of an event.- Thailand :...

 of Queen Victoria. A daughter tree was planted ceremonially in 1951 near the site of the original Royal Oak by the Orlando Bridgeman, 5th Earl of Bradford
Orlando Bridgeman, 5th Earl of Bradford
Lieutenant-Colonel Orlando Bridgeman, 5th Earl of Bradford DL, JP , styled Viscount Newport from 1898 to 1915, was a British peer, Conservative politician and soldier...

, who was the owner of Boscobel House at the time, to mark the tercentenary of Charles II's escape. Another oak sapling was planted in 2001 by Prince Charles
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

; it was grown from one of the Son's acorns and is thus a grandson of the Royal Oak. Saplings, certified as grown from the tree's acorns are actually available from the English Heritage shop at Boscobel House.

In commemoration of the tree's significance in British history, a number of places and things have been named after the Royal Oak: see Royal Oak (disambiguation)
Royal Oak (disambiguation)
The Royal Oak was the tree in which Charles II of England hid to escape the Roundheads following the Battle of Worcester in 1651.-Cities and towns:In England:*Royal Oak, County Durham*Royal Oak, Lancashire* Royal Oak, North Yorkshire...

. The Royal Oak is the third most common pub name in Britain.

See also

  • Oak
    An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

  • English oak
  • Robur Carolinum
    Robur Carolinum
    Robur Carolinum was a constellation created by the English astronomer Sir Edmond Halley in 1679. The name refers to the oak where Charles II was said to have hidden from the troops of Oliver Cromwell after the Battle of Worcester. It was located between the constellations of Crux and Carina...

    , "Charles' Oak", a now-defunct constellation
    In modern astronomy, a constellation is an internationally defined area of the celestial sphere. These areas are grouped around asterisms, patterns formed by prominent stars within apparent proximity to one another on Earth's night sky....

  • 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...

  • List of famous trees
  • There have been eight warships of the Royal Navy
    Royal Navy
    The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

     named HMS Royal Oak
    HMS Royal Oak
    Eight ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Royal Oak, after the Royal Oak in which Charles II hid himself during his flight from the country in the English Civil War:...

  • The Royal Oak is the third most popular pub name in Britain (541 in 2007)

External links