Boscobel House and the Royal Oak, Bishop’s Wood, Shropshire, England. Another historic site I used to manage.
Boscobel House was built in about 1632, when John Giffard (a Roman Catholic) of Whiteladies (a nearby Priory, that I also used to manage) converted a timber-framed farmhouse into a hunting lodge. At the time the Catholics in England suffered persecution in a Protestant country and it is said that the true purpose of Boscobel was to serve as a secret place for the shelter of Catholics in times of need with a number of secret rooms or ‘priest-holes’ hidden within the building.
The house is however more famous for assisting a young future King Charles II.
Following the execution of King Charles I in 1649, his eldest son made an attempt to regain the throne but in 1651 his opportunity was crushed at Worcester in the final conflict of the Civil War and young Charles was forced to flee for his life.
He sought refuge at Boscobel whilst avoiding Cromwell’s troops, hiding first in a tree which is now known as the Royal Oak and then spending the night in the now infamous priest-holes in the house. He then travelled on in disguise via other safe houses before escaping to France.
Boscobel later became a much visited place, as word of the story of King Charles II exploits became widely known. Visitors can see the interior of the house and the priest-holes which are little changed and the Royal Oak in the grounds. It is open to the public and managed by English Heritage