"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Boscobel House and the Royal Oak

Now that we've joined English Heritage D and I decided we would try and visit one of their sites every month so last weekend we went to Boscobel House and The Royal Oak which have become famous as they were used as hiding places by Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The journey was straightforward - we didn't get lost and for once the M6 North was unbelievably quiet.

Boscobel House built around 1632 was originally a timber-framed farmhouse which was turned into a hunting lodge by John Giffard of nearby White Ladies. The Giffards were Roman Catholics at a time when people of that religion were persecuted. It has been suggested that the main purpose of Boscobel was as a secret hiding place for Catholics when it was necessary.

In the 18th century Boscobel was owned by the Fitzherbert family, descendants of the Giffards, and the property was rented out. In the 19th century the house was bought in 1812 by Walter Evans, a Derbyshire Industrialist. A farmhouse was added to the lodge and the family returned the house to its 17th century appearance. In 1918 it was sold by the Evans family to the Earl of Bradford and the house was given to the Ministry of Works in 1954 and the farmyard in 1967. In 1998 English Heritage refurbished the house to its appearance in around 1900.

We had a look around the interior of the house first.

The parlour was the main room of Boscobel House and is little changed since the 17th century. Charles II ate a meal in this room.

I thought the craftsmanship in the 19th century carved display cabinet made in Germany was just superb.

Leading off the parlour is a small room known as the Oratory. The tapestries are Flemish and date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The painting is of Dames Joan Penderel and is a 20th century copy of a 17th century original.

Upstairs one of the bedrooms had a lovely tiled fireplace.

The White Bedroom

And then up into the attic

In the attic is the second of Boscobel's secret hiding places (the other is in the Squire's Room) and it is thought the one in the attic is the most likely one to have been used by Charles II as it matches Thomas Blount's 1660 description.

At the end of the attic is the Bower Room which was used as a bedroom and may also have served as a secret chapel. The 19th century wall paintings show religious Catholic symbols and depict the Tree of Life, Madonna Lily (symbol of purity) and possibly the Garden of Eden.

Next to the house are buildings housing the dairy.

The settling room where the cream was separated.

The Knot Garden is typical of a 17th century garden with parterre beds and has been restored since the 1950's. The Mount once had a pretty arbour where it is believed Charles II spent a few hours reading in 1651.

Just a short walk away is the Royal Oak (a descendant of the original tree where Charles II hid).

Charles II

Following the execution of King Charles I in 1649 England was ruled by the Parliamentarians. Charles II (son of Charles I) was in exile in France and in 1650 he returned to make a bid for the throne. He landed in Scotland and having raised an army marched south to meet his supporters in the West Midlands. He was defeated by Oliver Cromwell on 3rd September 1651 at Worcester. Following this defeat Charles II was forced to flee and his supporters took him first to White Ladies and then he sought refuge at Boscobel. He hid in the oak tree with his officer William Careless and then spent a night in a small priest hole in the house. The five Penderel brothers, servants at Boscobel and White Ladies, risked their lives to protect him. Charles did eventually manage to return to France and when in 1660 he returned to England as king he rewarded the Penderels with a pension which is still paid to their descendants today.

We walked back to the house in search of a tearoom where

we had hot chocolate and cake.

Then a quick look round the stables and the 19th century farmyard.

The inscription on this gravestone reads "Here lieth the bodie of a friende the king called Joan Butnow....... died 1669"

If I had been on my own I might have tempted by one of these little bunnies.

Back in the car we ate our sandwiches and then visited White Ladies Priory which I will leave for another post in a few days.

Photos taken by me with Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera

Reference: English Heritage Guide to Boscobel House


Chris Rohrer said...

I love the bed with the canopy over it. And the churn reminds me of yummy dairy days when we made butter. The dessert also looks really delicious as well!

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much. The house was so interesting although OH came along and he doesn't really "do" old houses! He too liked the dairy area though. Cake was good :)

Margaret Adamson said...

A beautiful looking house outside and a most interesting one inside. Love all the wood carvings. It has beeen well restored and a pleasure to visit. Thanks for sharing your trip there.

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thank you - so pleased you enjoyed.

Rosie said...

It's an interesting place and looks the same as I remember it inside and out. I remember the hiding places and the wall paintings. I loved the dairy it was so light and airy. I'd have been tempted by one of those bunnies too:)

Caroline Gill said...

A fascinating property to visit, RR! We have been a couple of times, but not recently. I don't actually remember a tearoom, but I hope Timothy enjoyed a piece of that cake! I love the way the lines of the parterre seem to mirror the lines of the architecture... I seem to recall some lovely hens.

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you. I remembered your blog post on the house when we decided to go and had a look at it so I knew what to expect! :) OH particularly liked the dairy as he is not so keen on houses. I am hoping shops at other English Heritage places might have those bunnies and can buy one on another visit!

Caroline Gill - Thank you. I think the tearoom may be new?? and I think it is run independently rather than by English Heritage. Timothy liked the cake! We didn't see any hens although I gather they are usually about which is odd!

The Pottering Artist said...

What interesting an beautiful photographs - I loved seeing the ornate carvings and the faded motifs on the plaster. I find these old houses have charm and should beyond. Nothing can replace these old places and I loved seeing such in depth images. Thanks - Alison

Ragged Robin said...

The Pottering Artist - Thank you so much Alison for leaving such a lovely comment. I agree about the charm of such old houses - we are fortunate that we have so many of them. I love all the history in them :)

CherryPie said...

Lovely photos of Boscobel and the son of the Royal Oak.

On my most recent visit Mr C wasn't in the mood for visiting the tea room.

The cake looks delicious :-)

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you. Eating in tearooms and pubs not so easy at the minute for me either as both B and D are on diets so don't want cake!!!