Jane Lane and Charles II

Jane Lane and Charles II

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12, 1651 - adventures in Bristol

Charles with Jane Lane and Henry Lascelles
17th century Bristol
On Friday, September 12, Charles, Jane Lane, and Henry Lascelles were on the last day of their ride toward Abbots Leigh, but it was also the most dangerous part of their journey.  They would have to pass through Bristol, which was not only a port city likely to be closely watched, heavily populated by soldiers, but also where Charles had spent a lot of time during the war.  Now he was a 21-year-old man rather than the boy of not quite sixteen who had left, but still it was risky.

Part of Millerd's 1673 plan of Bristol
They rode southwest from Cirencester without incident, passing through Tetbury and Chipping Sodbury before they entered Bristol by Lawford’s Gate. 
St. John's Gate, another of the medieval gates of Bristol
 Charles was curious to see what had become of the fortifications made to Bristol by the Royalists after the surrender to Cromwell, and insisted on a detour.   He got lost, and had to ask for directions.  Nevertheless, he and his companions passed through the city unmolested and by late afternoon, reached Abbots Leigh, the home of Jane’s friend Ellen Norton, about three miles outside the city.
The Gatehouse at Abbots Leigh
about 1770
When they rode up to the great home, perched atop a hill, a game of bowls was in progress on the lawn, and several observers were gathered to watch.  They had already determined that it would be best to keep Charles away from the many servants of the household, so Jane told her friend that her man Jackson was getting over an ague and was still weak, and asked that he be given a comfortable room with a fire, or “this boy will never recover.”  Charles thought that “my late Fatigues and want of meate had indeed made me look a little pale.”
Two views of Abbots Leigh in about 1770.  It was torn down in 1814 to make way for a new house.
Mrs. Norton’s solicitousness presented unanticipated dangers. Her butler, John Pope, who directed the maid Margaret Rider to see that Charles got supper and a posset, had not only been a servant to Thomas Jermyn, who had been Groom of the Bedchamber to Charles when he was “a boy at Richmond,” he had also served under Jane Lane’s uncle Colonel Hervey Bagot at Lichfield during the war, so he had certainly seen the king many times.  Moreover, Dr. Gorge, a physician and parson who came to examine Jane’s ostensibly sick servant, had been chaplain to Charles’s father, Charles I.

At least Charles knew that he was among ardent Royalists.  And he was anticipating Lord Wilmot's arrival at the house any time, and expected that Wilmot would quickly be able to find a ship to carry them both to safety in France or Spain.

Broadsheet showing the Battle at Worcester,
Charles with the Penderel brothers, Charles
riding withJane Lane and Henry Lascelles
and the boat to France.

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