Following on from ‘An Unexpected Guest’
The King … left the wood, and betook himself to Richards house… the King held on his knee their daughter nan: after he had eat a little, he asked Richard to eat, who replied, yea Sir I will, whereto his Majesty answered, you have a better stomach then I, for you have eaten five times to day already.
[An exact Narrative]
The King had a plan, food in his belly and it seems that his spirits were on the rise. With Richard Penderel as his guide he was going to make his way to Madeley, in Shropshire, and there cross the River Severn into Wales. The King knew of men in Wales who could organise his transport back to France. On the way they stopped off at Richard’s house, where Charles experienced a slice of the farmer’s domestic life.
.Hubbal Grange sat in the woods between Whiteladies and the village of Tong. No details of the house at it stood in 1651 remain, and nothing but a few stones survive of the building itself. It is still possible to walk to the location of Hubbal Grange as it sits along a designated bridleway route, part of the ‘Monarch’s Way’. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the site myself, for all its charms the Brompton is not an off-roader.
.The Penderel brothers are referred to as being of Tong parish and it is likely that they were all brought up at Hubble Grange. The house was occupied by Richard and his family on the death of their father, who had died recently, certainly before 1651. On Richard’s death, in 1672, the house is listed in his will. It is unclear whether the house had passed to Richard on his father’s death, or when his mother Joan died, in 1662. Why was the house in the hands of Richard and not the older brother William? As William was well ensconced in service as caretaker of Boscobel house, perhaps he had no need of the ancestral base. But why not to John, the second eldest. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.
.How would this humble country abode have appeared to the Royal visitor? Yeoman houses were relatively uniform in design, if not necessarily in materials, in this period. Usually a rectangular house of one and a half or two floors, the majority of Yeoman houses would have had 5-9 rooms, though it seems as if the Penderels existed at the poorer end of the scale, so perhaps only 2-3 rooms. If at some point six brothers lived under the same roof, along with their parents, it would surely have been a squeeze.
.The main living space would have been ‘the hall’, which would have taken up much of the lower floor. The fireplace would have been the focus of the room. Hung with the various accoutrements of domestic cooking, it was here that the good-wife would have cooked the family meals. Aside from the fireplace there would have been a long table, or ‘board’, as well as at least one or two benches and stools. A cupboard or chest may also have been crowded into this room, containing at least some pewter vessels and platters. The wall may have been decorated with a tapestry or painted cloth, if it could be seen by the candle and fire-light.
.The Yeomanry were proud of their homes, as the English continue to be to this day. Charles would have had warmth and comfort for the first time since he led his troops into battle. No doubt Mary Penderel had been made aware of who her guest was, but little Nan must have wondered why her parents were fussing over this tall, oddly pale woodsman wearing strangely familiar clothes.
After the brief respite of a warm fire and family comforts came arguably the most physically arduous part of Charles’ entire journey. Having had no sleep for over twenty four hours, the newly re-named Will. Jackson set off with Richard Penderel through the undulating countryside of Shropshire. It is clear from the accounts that exhaustion was beginning to tell, Charles was a physically active man, fond of tennis and hunting, but he struggled to keep up with his stout guide in the dark, unfamiliar terrain. The journey was made worse afer an unfortunate encounter with a suspicious Miller:
Just as we came to the Mill, we could see the Miller (as I believe) sitting at the Mill-doore, he being in White Cloathes, it being a very dark night; He called out, Who goes there? upon with Rich. Penderell answered, Neighbours goeing home, or some such-like words. Wherepuon the miller cryed out, If you be neighbours stand, or elce I will knock you downe. Upon which we believing there was Company in the House, the fellow bad me follow him close, and he Run to a Gate that went up a dirty-lane up a Hill; and opening the Gate, the Miller cryed out, Rogues, Rogues; and thereupon some men came out of the Mill after us, up the lane as long as we could Runn, it being very deep and 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 downe upon the Ground about halfe an hower…
The Kings Account, Pepys
It was a mud splattered, hedge bedraggled Charles that arrived just outside Madeley at midnight. Another hedge was his resting place as Richard Penderel went to the house of another Catholic Gentleman, Francis Woolfe. He was not welcomed with open arms. Two companies of militia were garrisoned in the town and Woolfe insisted that the King could not stay in the house, his priest holes and hiding places having already been discovered, being a known Catholic he had been searched on previous occasions. The King was briefly allowed in, given a dish of cold meat and then led to the barn where he and Richard were hidden behind Woolfe’s freshly harvested Corn and Hay.
Madeley proved to be no dramatic escape for Charles, it was another day spent hiding, this time in a barn, while Woolfe’s trusted servant scouted out the river crossings. The news he brought back was not good. It was impossible to cross the Severn, troops were already on guard in an attempt to capture escapees from Worcester. That night Charles and Richard agreed to return to the safest place they knew, Boscobel House. So after brief respite, they retraced their steps on foot, though they avoided Evelith Mill this time. Next Post