Moseley Old Hall, on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, was the hiding place of King Charles II, on the run from Cromwell’s army.
You can see the priest hole where the exhausted King hid from the search parties in 1651, before making his escape to Europe.
The house and gardens are beautifully restored and provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Cavaliers and Roundheads during the Civil War.
The house is run by the National Trust and is open from 19 March – 30 October, 6 November – 20 December.
Charles' Black Country hideout
When you think of the Black Country you probably don’t think of days out at historic country houses and gardens. But at Fordhouses, just outside Wolverhampton, there’s a beautiful old house with a compelling history that would make a great trip out for the family.
|Charles II hid in this priest hole|
Mums, dads and grandparents can enjoy the beautiful gardens and the rooms within Moseley Old Hall, while the children can even get a bit of history homework in too.
In 1651 King Charles II was on the run after having his army wiped out in the Battle of Worcester. He was a hunted man with a price on his head, and being pursued by Cromwell’s men.
For days he hid in a tree near Boscobel, now known as the famous ‘Boscobel Oak’, then arrived at the door of the Whitgreave family home, now known as Moseley Old Hall. The owner and his priest, who lived in the house, helped the King and hid him safely in the house’s priest hole, as the Parliamentarians searched for him.
Saved in Wolverhampton priest hole
The exhausted king was dressed in rags and wore ill fitting shoes that had torn his feet to shreds. Thomas Whitgreave and Father Huddlestone bathed his wounds and gave the homeless monarch food and shelter.
|Charles slept in this bed|
His father, Charles I, had been executed in Whitehall in 1649 and the Monarchy abolished. His son had fled into exile in France and came back to Britain to try and reclaim his throne. It was after his devastating defeat in battle when he came across the Black Country home of the Whitgreave family.
The priest hole, and the original bed and bedroom Charles II slept in, can both be seen in this beautifully preserved house. The interior of the house has been faithfully restored to its 17th century look, with uneven wooden floors, a secret chapel and living rooms showing how the family lived in this difficult period of Catholic persecution.
His rescuer was rewarded
The priest hole is a shocking reminder of the terror people lived in a the time. It’s cleverly concealed below what would have been a closet off the bedroom – a tiny hole hidden under floorboards and with no light.
|Did Charles II walk up this path?|
With the help of Thomas Whitgreave and his priest, Charles II escaped the search parties in Wolverhampton and eventually reached safety in Europe. He returned to Britain over 8 years later and retook the throne. He never forgot the Black Country gentlemen who helped save his life, and rewarded them with high appointments and a rich pension.
Step back in time
The outside of the house would originally have been made of timber, but now has a charming weathered brick frontage built in 1870 as the house was in desperate need of repair.
But you can still see paintings and drawings of how the exterior of the house would have looked when the bedraggled King Charles meekly knocked on its door.
|The Knot Garden|
The gardens of the house are kept with flowers and foliage true to the time, and you can enjoy the Knot Garden with its beautiful topiary box bushes, the foxgloves, poppies and sweet peas, and the herb garden and small orchard filled with 17th century variety fruit trees and old shrub roses.
Moseley Old Hall
Fordhouses, Wolverhampton, WV10 7HY
Telephone: 01902 782808
House is open - 19 March – 30 October, 6 November – 20 December
Check the National Trust website or telephone for days and opening times
Prices: Adult £4.80 Child: £2.40 Family: £12