Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Royal Oak of Boscobel


‘…Major Carlos (William Carlos) had...told me that it would be very dangerous for me either to stay in that house, or to go into the wood, there being a great wood hard by Boscobel; that he knew but one way how to pass the next day, and that was, to get up in a great oak, in a pretty plain place, where we might see around us; for the enemy would certainly search at the wood for people that had made their escape…’

From the Folio Book of Days, King Charles II described his determination to avoid being apprehended by Parliamentarian forces, by hiding in an oak tree, on September 6, 1651.  Sir Walter Scott edited Count Grammont’s “Memoirs of the Court of Charles the Second and the Boscobel Narratives”, which covers the honor due Charles’ hiding place:

 ‘The oak is now properly called " The Royal Oak of Boscobel," nor will it lose that name whilst it continues a tree, nor that tree a memory whilst we have an inn left in England; since the "Royal Oak" is now become a frequent sign, both in London and all the chief cities of this kingdom. And since his majesty's happy restoration, that these mysteries have been revealed, hundreds of people, for many miles round, have flocked to see the famous Boscobel, which (as you have heard) had once the honour to be the palace of his sacred majesty, but chiefly to behold the Royal Oak, which has been deprived of all its young boughs by the numerous visitors of it, who keep them in memory of his majesty's happy preservation, insomuch that Mr. Fitzherbert, who was afterwards proprietor, was forced in a due season of the year to crop part of it, for its preservation, and put himself to the charge of fencing it about with a high pale, the better to transmit the happy memory of it to posterity.

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