Britain at its best: how fascinating Shropshire is a joyful leap back in time
- Charles II hid in Boscobel House and Boscobel Oak after losing the Battle of Worcester in 1651
- During the lockdown, Boscobel was renovated with a new 17th century-style playground and gardens
- Shropshire is full of fascinating sights, including the world’s first iron bridge
The half-timbered Boscobel House and Boscobel Oak in a pristine corner of Shropshire hid Charles II after losing the Battle of Worcester to Oliver Cromwell’s MP in 1651.
On the run for his life, he took refuge in the oak of Boscobel.
The story of Charles’ escape became so famous that pilgrims soon began tearing off branches. In 1680 the owners even built a wall around them.
Hide and Seek: Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Bridgnorth (pictured) are medieval Shropshire towns with great churches and castles
The original tree lasted until 1791. The current tree, which was planted in 1712 and is now surrounded by railings, is a descendant of the original.
In 2020 the entire field was planted with young oaks, so that it will be the wood again that it was in the time of Charles II.
After his day in the tree, Charles II hid in a priest’s hole in the neighboring Boscobel house, which belonged to a royalist family.
If you stare down into that priest hole, you must pity the poor king.
Shropshire is home to the world’s first pictured iron bridge spanning the River Severn
At Boscobel House, the story of Charles II is told in a way that “works for children, but is not patronized for adults”. A Charles II lookalike is shown
The Boscobel House site is now open. The interior of the house is scheduled to open on May 27th. Entry: £ 11 per adult; £ 6.60 per child. Upton Cresset Hall offers double rooms from £ 550 for two nights, uptoncressetthall.co.uk.
His father, Charles I, had been executed just two years earlier, and there seemed to be every chance he would be next when Parliamentary soldiers knocked on the house.
But they couldn’t find the monarch who returned to the throne nine years later, in 1660.
During the lockdown, Boscobel was redesigned. Inside, the story of Charles II is told in a way that works for children but isn’t patronized for adults – a lesson the National Trust could learn from English heritage.
Ryeland sheep and friendly Tamworth pigs were brought to the farm. There is also a new playground which was great fun even for this 49 year old.
The 17th century gardens have been recreated with a cute, decorative knot garden.
Shropshire is full of fascinating sights including the world’s first iron bridge (in Ironbridge, of course). Shrewsbury, Ludlow and Bridgnorth are medieval towns with great churches and castles.
As history addicts know, the only way forward is backward. And Shropshire is a joyful step back in time.