MOSELEY OLD HALL, STAFFORDSHIRE

Grid Ref: SJ 928 044
Dates: 20 April 2013

 

Moseley Old Hall lies about five miles to the NNE of Wolverhapton, just south of the M54. It is in the care of the National Trust and is famous as one of the hiding places of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Moseley Old Hall was built in 1600 by a local Staffordshire family, the Whitgreaves. They were Catholic and supported the Royalist cause during the Civil War. The house was owned by descendants of the Whitgreaves until 1925. Over the years they had replaced the Elizabethan windows and encased the house in brick instead of wattle and daub. The house was used as a farm unti World War II and taken over by the National Trust in 1962. It has been restored and provided with furniture of the appropriate period; the original four-poster bed in which Charles slept is displayed in the "King's Room".

I have been at Moseley when National Trust volunteers were in period costume, demonstrating weapons of the Civil War period.

Moseley Old Hall
Moseley Old Hall
Moseley Old Hall
Side view showing the knot garden made from box hedges

 

Key Events of 1649

King Charles I (1600-1649) was executed for treason by Parliament in front of the Banquetting House in Whitehall on 30th January 1649. On 5th February, Charles I's eldest son, Charles Prince of Wales, was proclaimed "King of Great Britain, France and Ireland" by the Scottish Parliament but they refused to allow him to enter Scotland unless he accepted Presbyterianism throughout Britain and Ireland. On the 7th of February, the English Parliament voted to abolish the English monarchy and on the 14th it created an English Council of State. The same month, Charles II was proclaimed King of Great Britain, France and Ireland by Hugh, Viscount Mongomery and other Irish Royalists in Ulster. Then on 17th March the English Parliament passed an Act abolishing kingship.

Charles II in Exile

Charles II (1630-1685) had been in exile since 1646. He went first from Falmouth to the Isles of Scilly then to Jersey and finally to France, where his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, the sister of Louis XIII (1601-1643) was already in exile. By this stage the eight-year old Louis XIV (1638-1715) had succeeded. In 1648, Charles moved to the Hague in Holland. His sister Mary (1631-1660) had married, William II, Prince of Orange (1626–1650) in 1641; he was the Stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands from 14 March 1647.

Following his father's death, Charles II attempted to negotiate with the Scots. He arrived in Scotland in June 1650 and agreed to support the Solemn League and Covenant, which promoted Presbyterian governance of the church across Britain, thereby winning the support of Presbyterians but losing that of Episcopalians, who believed in a church hierarchy involving bishops. In September 1650 the Scottish Covenanters were defeated by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar. The Scottish forces were disunited as they comprised both Presbyterian Covenanters and Royalist Engagers, a faction that had sought a deal with Charles I in 1647. Despite this defeat, Charles was crowned King of Scotland at Scone on 1 January 1651. Rather than wait for an attack by Cromwell, Charles decided to strike first by invading England. Few English royalist joined the force as it moved south and they were defeated at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

Escape from Worcester

After the Battle of Worcester, Charles escaped and fled with a few companions. He was on the run for six weeks before reaching Normandy on 16th of October 1651. He was taken initially by Colonel Giffard to White Ladies Priory, on Giffard's Boscobel estate and they arrived in the early hours of 4 September. Five brothers of the Catholic Pendrell family lived on the estate. They left the next morning and hid in the woods for a time before reaching Boscobel House in the early hours of 6th September. As they had not been able to find shoes big enought for Charles, he had sustained very sore feet by this stage. Colonel William Carliss, who had fought for the Royalists at Worcester arrived at Boscobel the same day. He and Charles spend the whole day hiding in a nearby oak tree as Parliamentary forces searched the woods nearby.

On 7 September Charles left Boscobel for Moseley Old Hall, accompanied by the five Pendrell brothers and Francis Yates, who was a servant of Charles Giffard, a relative of the Pendrells. Charles' horse stumbled and could no longer be ridden so he continued with Richard and John Pendrel and Francis Yates to Moseley Old Hall, the home of Thomas Whitgreave. At the hall was Father John Huddleston (1608-1698) a monk of the Benedictine order who was present when Charles converted to Catholicism on his deathbed in 1685. Charles spent the night and the next two days at Moseley Old Hall and saw some of his fleeing Scottish Troops pass by. Parliamentary troops arrived to search Moseley Old Hall so Charles hid in the priest hole off a bedroom. Thomas Whitgreave was accused of fighting for the Royalists but he managed to persuade them that he was too weak to aid Royalists on the run from Worcester. The Parliamentary troops left without conducting a search of the house. However, after midnight on 10 September, Charles left Moseley for Bentley Hall near Walsall.

Sources

Wikipedia articles on Charles I, Battle of Worcester, Charles II, Escape of Charles II, Moseley Old Hall
Notes on the key events of 1649 from a course at Wilmslow Guild, Cheshire, given by Dr. Jennifer Palmer

 

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