Jane Lane and Charles II

Jane Lane and Charles II

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8, 1651 - safe at Moseley Hall

Moseley Old Hall
Charles arrived at Moseley Hall late at night on Sunday, September 7, and stayed up until 4 or 5 a.m. eating biscuits and drinking sack with Thomas Whitgreave, the owner of Mosely, and Father John Huddleston, and giving them a long account of what had happened during his time in Scotland, the march toward Worcester, the battle, and what had happened to him since.  Finally, with day breaking, he slept, with Huddleston and Whitgreave keeping guard.

"King's Bedroom" at Moseley Old Hall
from The Flight of the King

Back of Moseley Old Hall, October 2009

Moseley Hall in the 19th century
Moseley Hall, October 2009
In the morning, Whitgreave sent away his servants, except a Catholic maid, who was told only that a relative of the family who had escaped from Worcester was taking shelter in the house.  Whitgreave then dispatched John Penderel to Bentley Hall to ask John Lane to bring Wilmot’s horses to the marle pit near Mosely about midnight so Wilmot could go to Bentley Hall and finalize the plans for the king’s journey to Bristol with Jane Lane.
Door of Moseley Hall, October 2009
Charles describes this door in his account
The attic of Mosely Hall, October 2009
the window looks down onto the road
Charles spent the day in the attic of the house, from which he could look down at the road and watch the wretched remains of his army making their way northward.  The road passes so close by the house that Charles recognized one man from his own regiment of Scottish highlanders.  Some of them came to the house, and Mrs. Whitgreave fed them and nursed them as best she could.  They told her that they were subsisting on pea straw, cabbage stalks, and whatever they could find.  The English had not been happy to have an army of Scots in their midst, and the poor soldiers were not only starving and in danger of capture, and likely transportation to near-slavery in the West Indies, but were subjected to hostility and abuse by the residents of the country. 
Moseley Hall, October 2009
looking toward gate onto the road

Mrs. Whitgreave had been taken into the secret of the king’s identity and sat with him at dinner at his insistence.  There were three young boys in the household, who had been excused from their lessons and posted to keep a sharp eye out for Cromwell’s soldiers.  They didn’t know who the stranger at the table was, but he was amused when one of them urged the others, “Eat hard, boys, for we have been on the lifeguard and hard duty this day.”  One of the boys was named Palin, and according to the guide at Moseley Hall, he was an ancestor or distant relation of Michael Palin of Monty Python fame.

Moseley, entrance to the Long Walk
from The Flight of the King
Garden at Moseley Hall, October 2009
photo by Alice Northgreaves
That afternoon, the Parliamentary Colonel Ashenhurst and a party of his soldiers stationed at Codsall arrived at Whiteladies.  They had heard the king was hiding there, and had been guided there by a captured Royalist soldier.  They tore the place apart and roughed up Charles Giffard, but of course they didn’t find Charles. Enraged at having been led astray, they seriously beat the captive soldier.

The news of this event reached Moseley and raised the already high stakes in the dangerous game being played by the king and his supporters.  With Cromwell’s men searching the neighboring houses, it was imperative that the king must be gotten out of the area as soon as possible.  It was agreed that Wilmot would tell John Lane that night that they must get the king to Bentley Hall the next night, and set off for Bristol the following morning.  And Lord Wilmot told Whitgreave that if Whitgreave should be taken and tortured, he should confess all he knew about Lord Wilmot’s actions, hoping that might satisfy his inquisitors and spare the king.

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