The Escape of Charles II

On the 3rd September Oliver Cromwells New Model Army defeated the Royalist army at Worcester. The Kings ambitions to regain his kingdom were thwarted and he returned to his lodging in the city. As he was planning his escape a troop of Parliamentary horsemen arrived at the front door to arrest him, he just in the nick of time escaped with sixty of his officers through the back door. Thus begins the episode known as the escape of Charles II. With an award on his head of a thousand pounds Charles plunged into the countryside to escape. First he dismissed his companions hoping that with only a few companions he might have a better chance and then relying on a small clique of sympathetic gentlemen he attempted to escape into Wales. During this period he stayed at White Ladies Priory, Boscobel House and Moseley Hall. At Boscobel house the Kings hair was cut and he was disguised as a servant which involved teaching him the local accent and how to walk as a labourer. Whilst Parliamentary troops searched the nearby woodland the King and a companion hid in an oak tree, the companion being forced to pinch the king to keep him awake. After staying at Molesley Hall the King and his party moved on. At Bromsgrove his horse lost a shoe. At the Blacksmiths he got news of his army that had been beaten at Worcester. He added that King Charles should be hung for bringing the Scots into an English matter to which the smith agreed. At Stratford-upon-avon the King kept up his disguise as a servant by being put to work in the kitchen. When he proved inept at setting up the roasting jack the cook became suspicious. Charles explained that he was too poor to eat meat and had no experience with roasting jacks, and the disguise was maintained. The route into Wales proved too well guarded so he and his companions went south to the coast in search of a ship to France. It was decided that the king would be disguised as a merchant going to recover debts but the man organising the ship, Captain Limbry did not appear. He had been locked in his bedroom by his wife who was afraid for his safety. Still hoping to escape from the south coast the King rode to Bridport only to find it full of troops and an Ostler who recognised him. Cleverly the King convinced the man that they had both been servants together for a gentlemen of Exeter. Finally the king rode east to Shoreham where his friends organised transport on the coal ship Surprise. Again the King was recognised by the Landlord and by one of the conspirators. He had to pay £200 danger money and hope against hope that the Landlord would keep his tongue. The King set sail, again, in the nick of time, two hours later a troop of soldiers arrived with orders to arrest the King. Charles escape is one of the most exciting episodes of the English Civil Wars. It has been widely celebrated in books and in film.