BOSCOBEL & WHITE LADIES PRIORY, SHROPSHIRE

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28 May 2005

 

Boscobel House spacer End Elevation
Boscobel House   End Elevation
Garden   Oak
The Knot Garden from the Mound   Son of the Royal Oak

 

Boscobel House lies close to the boundary between Shropshire and Staffordshire. It was converted from a farmhouse to a hunting lodge about 1632 by John Gifford of White Ladies. It achieved fame as a hiding place for Charles II following the Battle of Worcester in September 1651. He hid in an oak tree in the dense forest that then grew to the edge of the property then spent a a night hiding in the house. The Giffords were Catholics and Boscobel had a priest hole on the third floor. The King's escape was aided by the Pendrell brothers who were granted pensions following the Restoration. The building to the left of the 17th century house shown in the picture at the top left is a later addition.

The oak tree shown above is not the original, which was damaged and eventually destroyed by souvenir hunters. It is believed that the current oak grew from an acorn from the original. It too has been damaged in recent years, first by lighning then a storm. Boscobel was bought in 1812 by Walter Evans who furnished it as he believed it was at the time of Charles II's visit (Victorian Gothic). It was bought by the Earl of Bradford of Weston Park, in 1918.

The house is now administered by English Heritage and I recommend a visit. While there, take advantage of tea and cakes in the stables and walk the mile down to White Ladies Priory.

For opening times see the Boscobel page of the English Heritage site.

 

WHITE LADIES PRIORY

White Ladies spacer Norman door
North Wall   Door at West End of North Wall 
Door columns   Detail of door
Detail of Main Arch   Detail of Door
North Wall   North Wall
West End of North Wall from Inside   East End of North Wall from Inside

 

White Ladies Priory is a picturesque ruin about a mile south west of Boscobel. It was founded in the late 12th century by Augustinian nuns who wore undyed habits, hence the name. It was dedicated to St. Leonard. Along with other lesser houses it was dissolved in 1536.

The first time I visited, in 1999, the site was evidently abused by illegal campers and was strewn with litter. The stout wooden posts blocking the entry of vehicles to the site had been broken off. Now the entry is barred by a steel beam and the site is in better condition. Even so, it is sad to see that fires have been set against the walls in some places and against a mature tree near the entrance from the lane.

White Ladies Priory can also be seen in photographs taken on a sunnier day on the Virtual Shropshire Site (where the date of dissolution is incorrectly given as 1569)

 

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