The Manhunt for Charles II and his escape after the Battle of Worcester
The story begins with Charles II in Worcester and then northward through Worcestershire and into Shropshire close to Wolverhampton at White Ladies Priory, Boscobel House and Moseley Old Hall and then southward through Stratford-upon-Avon (Days 1 to 8) and out of Central England on to Bristol, Brighton and Paris (days 9 to 44).
THE STORY IN OUTLINE
It is September 1651; Charles II (aged 21) has failed at The Battle of Worcester to overcome Cromwell’s army and install himself as ruler of England.
There follows a manhunt and for six weeks Charles evades capture with a price on his head, facing almost certain death aided by a handful of friends, the Catholic Underground, and latterly by loyal landowners of the upper classes of the day.
In disguise, hiding in Priest Holes, ditches and even an Oak Tree, Charles – initially in panic- moves from refuge to refuge until a plan is formed to enable an escape to be made to France.
FOLLOW THE TRAIL?
Due to the need to protect the conspirators it was necessary after the escape to obscure the events until a much later date and it was some twenty years later, that Charles gave his story to the diarist Samuel Peyps. Additionally there were a number of other contemporary accounts, but inevitably with such events there are divergences, even Charles confuses the owner of Moseley Hall, Thomas Whitgrave, referring to him as Pitchcroft (The meadow at Worcester where Charles’s Troops had mustered)
Visits can be made to Worcester, Boscobel, Moseley Old Hall and
(probably not visited during Charles's flight , but would have been on his possibles list as it contained more Priest hiding places than most houses and is certainly worth visiting.)
For the person who wants to follow a route as closely as possible the is an excellent three Book series written by Trevor Antill, the first in the series covers the route as far as Stratford-upon-Avon. (175 miles)IBSN 1-869922-27-1
Also very readable and with a fast pace is Richard Ollard's book "The Escape of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester", it reads like an adventure book rather than a dry history book. ISBN 1-84119-517-0
THE STORY IN DETAIL
Follow the links for a day by day guide to the manhunt and the part played by the Catholic Underground of the Midlands.
DAY 1 - The Battle of Worcester
DAY 2 - At White Ladies
DAY 3 - The Royal Oak
DAYS 4 and 5 - At Moseley Old Hall
DAYS 6 & 7 - Charles lies low
Escape with Jane Lane