Jane Lane and Charles II

Jane Lane and Charles II

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 5, 1651 - a fruitless trip to Madely

On September 4, Charles had set out at dusk with Richard Penderel from Hobbal Grange with the plan of getting to Wales, where he could board a ship. The way was not easy, especially since Charles was wearing shoes that were much too small for his large feet.
The road between Boscobel and Whiteladies, October 2009
At about midnight or one a.m. they came to a mill bridge over a stream. As Charles recalled, they “could see the miller … sitting at the mill door, he being in White Cloathes, it being a very dark night. He called out, ‘Who goes there?’ upon which Richd. Penderel answered, ‘Neighbors goeing home,’ or some such words. Whereupon the miller cryed out, ‘If you be neighbors stand, or elce I will knock you down.’ … The miller cryed out, ‘Rogues, Rogues,’ and thereupon some men came out of the Mill after us, which I believed was Soldiers. Soe we fell running … up the lane as long as we could Runn, it being very deep and very dirty; Till at last I badd him leap over a hedge and lye still to heare if any boddy followed us. Which we did, and continued lyeing down upon the Ground about half an hower; when hearing noe body come, we continued on our way on to the Village upon the Seavern.”

Countryside near Whiteladies
Penderel suggested that it might be safer for them to take refuge, and that he knew a man named Wolfe in Madely whose house featured a priest hole. So on they went for another couple of hours. But Charles was cautious and when they reached Wolfe’s house, he “would not goe in, till I knew a little of his minde, whether he would receive soe dangerous a Guest as me; and therefore stayed in a Feild under a hedge … commanding him not to say it was I, but only to ask Mr. Woolf whether he would receive an English Gentleman, a person of Quality, to hide him on the next day till we could travel againe by night.”

Courtyard of Wolfe's house, Madeley

Penderel knocked on the door, but when he told Wolfe he had a man with him who had escaped from the battle at Worcester, Wolfe said “it was soe dangerous a thing to harbor any boddy that was knowne, that he would not venture his Neck for any man, unless it were the King himself.” When Penderel said that in fact it was the king who was with him, Wolfe said “he should be very redy to venture all he had in the World to Secure” him.

Wolfe's house in Madeley, from The Flight of the King
Interior of the barn at Madely
from The Flight of the King
One the fugitives were in the house, Wolfe said he was sorry to see Charles there, as there was a company of militia in the town, and they had a guard at the ferry to examine anyone attempting to cross. Moreover, Wolfe said, it would be dangerous for Charles to hide in his house because the priest holes had been discovered, and would certainly be searched if the house was searched.

Wolfe gave the king and Penderel some cold meat, and they spent the rest of the night and all the next day in the barn, hiding behind some corn and hay. In the evening, Woolf’s son, just released from being a prisoner at Shrewsbury, arrived home. As soon as it was dark, father and son brought Charles and Penderel some more meat. Charles asked whether they thought he could cross over the Severn into Wales, which they advised him “by noe means to adventure upon, because of the Strict Guards that were kept all along the Severne where any Passage could be found for preventing any Boddyes escapeing that way into Whales.”

Upon hearing this discouraging news, Charles decided he had no other choice but to go back to Boscobel or Whiteladies, where he should be able to reconnect with Wilmot, and execute his original idea of making for London.

There was discussion of whether Charles and Penderel should ride, but they decided it would be less noticeable and safer to walk, so poor Charles, his feet now covered with blood blisters, set out with Penderel for the long walk back.

When they came to the mill where the miller had pursued them the night before, having “noe mind to be questioned a second time,” Charles asked Penderel how deep the river was and whether he could swim. Penderel said “it was a Scurvey River, not easy to be past in all places, and that he could not swimm.” Charles investigated, and finding that the river was “but a little above my middle,” he took Penderel by the hand and helped him across, and they continued through the night toward Boscobel and Whiteladies.
Ruins of Whiteladies, October 2009
Arches at Whiteladies, October 2009
photo by Alice Northgreaves

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