On The Trail Of The Galloping Cavaliers
-The 'Royal Flight' Episodes Of 1651 And 1685



Lyme Bay, where the fleeing Charles II tried to find a ship in 1651 and Monmouth landed with his 3 ships in 1685.

This year will be the 350th anniversary of the event historians call the Restoration of the Monarchy, an event which occurred only because of Charles II's narrow escape into exile ten years before, in 1651. This is an episode with considerable local interest, as after his defeat at Worcester his lengthy escape route took him down to the South Coast near Lyme Regis, then east across Dorset and Wiltshire to Stonehenge and through Hampshire, pursued at every stage by Cromwell's Roundheads. Charles spent six weeks on the run, nearly half of it in this area. On his death in 1685, his illegitimate son and would-be successor “King” Monmouth similarly attempted to escape to the coast across Dorset after his disastrous defeat (at Sedgemoor) - in his case with a much less happy ending.
Below we have an outline of events of these two “Royal flight” episodes, plus some background material, as there is still confusion between fact and fiction, due to so many professional historians glossing over or slighting the episode as too exciting or “romantic” for a serious work of history. (As the popular perception of events relies on the many novels, plays, films and TV dramas which often take considerable artistic license, we have linked in a separate guide on our sister site to these novels, films etc, here). The outline here is compiled from various historical accounts which originally were near-contemporary (The newly crowned Charles II liked to dine out on the story of his 1651 escape, while the 1685 escape was written up soon after by various parties.) Onsite, we also have a webpage listing these and other 17th-C. local sites of interest you can visit, here:
17th Century Sites Of Local Interest.

THE English republican Commonwealth of Cromwell and his fellow Puritan rulers, which began with Charles I's execution in 1649, officially ended with the coronation of his son Charles II at Westminster on St George's Day, 23 April, 1661, a regime change known as the Restoration of the Monarchy. (Some historians date the Restoration to the year before, when Charles returned from France, though he had to spend the year consolidating his position politically to ensure there would be no more civil strife.) He also married exactly a year later to consolidate his position within Europe and secure an heir. However, as with Henry VIII, fate would deny him a male heir - which would result in the favourite among his illegitimate sons trying to seize the throne, leading to the disaster and “royal flight” of 1685.
The two main political parties in power today as a coalition also emerged in the subsequent era, known as the Restoration period, under the nicknames Tories and Whigs, follow-ups to the opposing forces in the Civil War. The Tories, from an insulting nickname for Irish outlaws, were King's men, ex-cavaliers. The Whigs, from a nickname for Scots Protestant rebels, were the King's opponents, the party of constitutional reform, originally led by local MP Anthony Ashley Cooper, later Lord Shaftesbury. (Whether or not there are any parallels between these events and our own recent regime change to a Tory-Whig coalition, I leave to the reader to decide.)

I. The 'Royal Escape' Of 1651
TEN YEARS before his coronation, the future king had been fleeing for his life across southern England. This great cross-country manhunt of 1651, the escape to safety in exile of the young Charles II from posses of Roundheads following his defeat by Cromwell at the battle of Worcester, is one of the classic episodes of English history, representing one of those pivotal moments when the entire course of national events might easily have gone the other way. The episode may seem familiar because it is the basis of many paintings, novels, and later films, for it possesses all the elements of popular romance - 'romantic' Cavaliers versus puritanical Roundheads, a lengthy chase with jeopardy all around, close calls and 'miraculous' getaways, cases of mistaken identity, the king in lowly disguise in his own realm, and so on. These popular works of course take considerable dramatic license with the historical events, but because historians often gloss over these episodes, disdaining them as too colourful for 'serious' accounts - the public mainly encounters fictional depictions. However the real story in each case is dramatic enough, worth telling in its own right. Below therefore, are accounts of the local-interest parts of the 1651 and 1685 “Royal flight” routes.
There is also a webpage on our sister site devoted to the main fictional depictions of local interest set in this era, here, as well as a separate webpage with a guide to local sites of historical interest that you can visit today, here:
"17th-Century Sites Of Local Interest" webpage].

IN the autumn of 1651, a bedraggled figure had landed in France, claiming he was Charles Stuart, rightful king of England. But people at first didn't believe him, for was dressed as a servant. It was how he had escaped after his failed attempt to secure the throne.
After the execution of his father Charles I in 1649, his 20-year old son Prince Charles had been provisionally crowned by his Scottish Protestant supporters as Charles II, and in 1651 invaded England with a force of anti-Catholic Scots - in effect triggering a second English Civil War. He was surrounded by Cromwell's army and defeated at Worcester, which effectively ended the war. Charles escaped as the town was sacked and the thousands of Scots survivors taken to be sold as slaves for Britain's new American colonies. Charles and one companion had fled south, via Boscobel (a “safe house”) to take ship for France, initially via Bristol. With Parliamentary Roundhead troops all around in a national manhunt, he was hidden every step of the way, ironically by Catholic sympathisers as well as his own Royalist Cavalier supporters.
Charles's itinerary covered ten counties but his adventures were mainly in this area, in Wiltshire and Dorset, which he had previously visited during the Civil War, as commander of royalist troops at age 14. From Worcester, he and his companion Colonel Carless rode south, hiding all the 6th of September atop a great oak near Boscobel manor while Roundheads searched all around, the incident that led to his adopting the "Royal Oak" as a symbol. Disguised as the servant of Jane Lane, sister of a sympathetic army officer, Charles and party rode southwest to the Manor House at Castle Cary in Somerset, arriving by 17th September safely at Trent 3 miles north of Sherborne, on the Wiltshire border. There, Royalist supporters Colonel and Lady Wyndham sheltered him in a hideaway at Trent Manor, while associates inquired about ships from Weymouth and Poole.
From Trent, Charles rode south to the coast disguised with cropped hair and plain clothes as a servant to his Cavalier confederates, Colonel Wyndham and Lord Wilmot. As a cover story, Wilmot pretended to be eloping with a Mrs Coningsby, who was a Wyndham cousin accompanying them in the role of Wilmot's intended, with Charles riding double, or pillion, as her servant. The party spent the night of the 22nd with another confederate, Captain Elsdon, at Elsdon's Farm (now Ellesdon Farm) at Monkton Wyld, en route to the coast at Lyme or Bridport. They had chosen Dorset as a quiet area for embarkation, but when they arrived the area was, in one of those fortunes-of-war twists, full of Roundhead troops assembling to invade Charles's former base of Jersey. They had a potential contact in Sir Gyles Strang[e]ways at Abbotsbury (which had been attacked and partly demolished during a Civil War battle) in the coast downs, but this proved no help as he reported back that he himself was afraid to venture down to the coast.
Discovering there was also a fair on in Lyme, they stayed at Charmouth adjacent. At the Queen's Armes inn (now Hotel), Wyndham engaged a ship's captain he knew to land a longboat on Charmouth beach at midnight, and transport a gentleman "who had a finger in the pye at Worcester." But the plan was farcically thwarted by the captain then being locked in his cottage without his trousers by his suspicious wife and daughters. Charles waited all night on Charmouth beach in vain. The hotel keeper also became suspicious, and Charles on advice rode out for Bridport, while Wilmot had a horse reshod. The ostler, noticing the unusual style of horseshoes, raised the alarm with both the hotelkeeper and the local Puritan minister (an ancestor of John Wesley) minutes after Wilmot had gone.
At what was then the George Inn, Bridport, Charles insisted on boldly pushing his way through a crowd of Roundheads who cursed him roundly (as the novelist would say, little did they suspect). Then, at the stables, the ostler told Charles he looked somehow familiar. Charles made an excuse but the party decided to move at once, a decision that probably saved Charles from going the way of his father. With the Roundheads already in close pursuit, the party narrowly escaped capture by at once turning off the main Dorchester road north up a lane by an oak tree which became known as the King Charles Oak. This lane, Lee Lane, is now marked by a stone bearing a plaque [pictured] commemorating this 'miraculous' escape.
En route back to Trent, they rode up the Valley of the Brit. Lost, they inquired of the landlord of what was then the George Inn, Broadwindsor, whom Colonel Wyndham recognized as a supporter. The Roundheads meantime, convinced from the sightings of Mrs Coningsby that Charles was disguised as a woman, invaded the house of Colonel Wyndham's aged uncle, a judge, at nearby Pilsdon Manor and made a “gross and rude mistake,” forcing one of the women in the house to undress. Charles's wanted poster, offering a £1,000 reward, described him as "Charles Stuart, a tall black man two yards high." At 6'2" Charles was conspicuously tall for the time, and had a swarthy complexion due to his Spanish maternal ancestry. The Puritans had nicknamed him “Old Rowley” after a famous stud horse of the day - all of which makes one wonder about the appearance of the women involved, or the legendary thickheadedness of Roundheads.
To complicate matters, Wilmot, as well as posing as an eloping lover, was also impersonating his own brother-in-law, who was an influential Cromwell supporter. To his dismay, he discovered the innkeeper's wife had once been this man's mistress. Yet on meeting Wilmot she did not seem to spot the difference, only commenting he had gained a lot of weight, and tried to "renew" her acquaintance. A troop of forty Roundheads now arrived to be billeted. The party were only saved from interrogation by the distraction of one of the troop's women companions giving birth, leading to a clash between parish officials and drunken soldiers over who would be responsible for the child's maintenance costs. In the exhausted lull that followed this long brouhaha, the party stole quietly away into the night.
After all that, Charles hid for almost two weeks with the Wyndhams at Trent Manor House, which had a priests'-hole style secret chamber dating from the post-Reformation persecution of the Catholic clergy, while associates tried to arrange for a Southampton vessel, without success. At Trent he heard the church bells rung to proclaim his death, a Roundhead having waved a bloody shirt in the Rose & Crown inn there as proof. Hearing ordinary villagers joyfully celebrating his reported death is said to have shocked him.
He then crossed eastward into Wiltshire to Mere, and then Stonehenge, where he hid out by day while staying for several nights at Heale House outside Salisbury while associates based at Salisbury tried to find a vessel leaving Southampton. Failing to discover any suitable vessel, the party wended its way across Hampshire to Sussex.
There, they managed to reach the coast and find a ship, finally escaping on October 15th with a troop of Roundheads only three hours behind them. The vessel was not going to France but was merely a Poole-bound coal brig, the Surprise, sailing from Shoreham. The fugitive party had to effectively take it over off the Isle Of Wight (where father's own last chance of escaping captivity had been lost, in Carisbrooke Castle), getting the captain drunk and bribing him further to take their party - supposedly of illegal “duellists” - across the Channel to Holland. (Charles would later buy the Surprise as a royal yacht, renaming it the Royal Escape.) He joined his supporters in exile. Even Jane Lane also soon had to join Charles in exile as word of her role had reached the government, escaping by walking alone cross-country.

Interregnum And Restoration
When Charles docked, so bedraggled and haggard-looking he was taken for a vagrant, it is said that the cheerful facade he had kept up for the six-week episode deserted him, and he fell into depression, being forced to spend 9 years in exile. However, after Cromwell died in 1658, a delegation of a dozen MPs visited him in Holland and invited him back to rule jointly with Parliament to prevent “anarchy.” One key member of this group was local aristocrat Anthony Ashley Cooper, who would be ennobled by Charles first as Baron Ashley of Wimborne St Giles, and then in 1672 as 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. Often just called Shaftesbury in modern accounts, Cooper had been a military commander and then civic official at various places in Dorset, as well as a moderate 'Parliamentarian party' MP for Wiltshire.
The Puritan Commonwealth still had no clear leader, Cromwell's son Richard having proved not a very popular choice, and Parliament voted to dissolve itself in 1660, many MPs like Cooper/Shaftesbury having become disillusioned with a regime that meant the country was effectively being run by the Army, along what we would now call police state lines. Some of the war's original opponents now made an arrangement to restore the old status quo, with a Parliament and a King sharing control of official purse strings. Thus, after 9 years in exile, Charles was officially invited back by Parliament, to put an end to the Puritan Commonwealth and restore the monarchy, riding in triumph through London on his 30th birthday on the 29th May 1660, and after spending a year consolidating his political, economic, diplomatic and military position was finally crowned on St George's Day, 23rd April 1661 - a date chosen for its Shakespearean patriotic associations. To invoke the same symbolism, his marriage the next year to Portuguese princess Catherine de Braganza the following year took place on St George's Day, 1662 [see sidenote on royal wedding].
The Puritan Commonwealth Army was disbanded as a threat to the restored monarchy. Those judges who had condemned Charles I to be beheaded in 1649 and now refused to "repent" were condemned for regicide, hanged, drawn, and quartered. Cromwell's corpse was dug up from its grave, hanged at Tyburn gallows and butchered. Any kind of dissenting [i.e. non-Anglican] approach to religion was still fiercely suppressed. Over 2,000 Puritan clergy were dismissed and forbidden to come near borough towns. Other minority sects like the Dissenters and Quakers were also brutally suppressed as a potential threat to national security. Charles would later dissolve Parliament in 1679 over the issue of Catholics (including his brother and successor James) in high office, to head off any direct confrontation of the sort that led to his father's downfall. But this and his having married a Catholic (which would make any royal male heir also a Catholic), prompted official action to head off supposed Catholic plots to seize power. The unresolved issue would lead to a final civil war battle, the last fought on English soil, on Charles's death in 1685.
In the meantime, the tale of his miraculous escape in 1651 could now be freely told, and were. As-told-to accounts of it were printed in his own lifetime, allowing the later assembling of a reasonably accurate record, from which the above summary is drawn. And when the historical novel developed in the 19th-C., the 'Royal Escape' became a favourite subject, and has remained one, for costume dramas on screen as well as novels. [For details of novels and films on the 1651 episode, click here.]

II. The Trail Of 1685 --The Flight of "King Monmouth"
-- The 1685 Somerset And Dorset Rising And The Flight of The Duke Of Monmouth
ON Charles II's death in 1685, his illegitimate son also attempted to invade England and overthrow the government. This was known as The Somerset And Dorset Rising and more colloquially as the 'Pitchfork Rebellion.' When that failed, he tried to mount an escape-in-disguise across Dorset like that of his father, in this case without success.
In 1685, after 25 years on the throne, Charles II died age 55 after a stroke (and the usual medical mistreatment of the time), his last words an apology for taking so long to die. He had survived various clashes with Parliament, a humiliating defeat by the Dutch Navy, which had sailed up the Thames and even captured his flagship the Royal Charles, having to secretly take money from both the Protestant Dutch and the Catholic French, and his reign had seen the capital destroyed first by plague and then by fire - which to some was God's wrath made manifest.
Despite leaving 14 illegitimate children by his various mistresses, Charles had no son born in wedlock (his only wife Catherine de Braganza had proved childless) who could be undisputed heir to the throne. And on his deathbed, Charles reportedly became a Catholic, attended by an aged priest (Father Huddleston) who 25 years before had washed his bleeding feet in 1651 during his escape. His being sheltered often by Catholic families (who often had handy "priests' holes' in their houses dating back to the Tudor-Elizabethan persecution of Catholic clergy) had made him less fearful of Catholics than many of his era, and he had named as his heir his openly Catholic brother James.
Fearing such a staunch Catholic on the throne (perhaps with memories of Bloody Mary's reign), certain leading Protestants, including Charles's onetime ally, the now-exiled Lord Shaftesbury, turned to a Protestant successor. They encouraged Charles's one-time favourite illegitimate son, James Scott, the Duke Of Monmouth, to attempt a coup and invade from Holland, where he had also been exiled. Monmouth looked like Charles II, who accepted paternity and raised him at court as a protégé, after Charles had him more or less kidnapped in 1658 to get custody away from the mother. The king openly preferred him, even making him captain-general in charge of the army against the Dutch in the war of 1673. However he had fled into exile when some of his friends were put on trial for plots against the king as a pro-Catholic appeaser. There, he was encouraged by Protestant foes of James's heavy-handed style to contemplate a return to claim the throne as "true" king.
The Duke had been brought by his father to Dorset in 1665, and later travelled through the area without his father in 1679-80, presenting himself as Protestant champion and natural heir to the throne, making a triumphal progress from town to town in the manner of a popular politician, riding over the western hills, from Ilchester to Forde Abbey, just north of Lyme Regis. It may be because of this he chose this area to land in, as well as its being in a part of England remote from government. Thus, on June 11th, only four months after James's accession, the naïve young Duke landed at Lyme with a small force.
The King was informed the next day by a courier from local MP Sir Winston Churchill, the squire of Minterne Magna estate, that his illegitimate nephew had landed from the Netherlands with three ships and 80 men and raised the standard for the Protestant cause, saying he was now “captain-general of the protestant forces of this kingdom.” He had also issued a proclamation accusing James II of poisoning his late brother Charles and being a "Popish usurper," as well as starting the 1666 Great Fire of London. Monmouth now promised "Liberty to the people of God" - meaning almost anyone not a Catholic. On hearing the news of his return in arms, the King commissioned Churchill's son John - future Duke of Marlborough-- to take the field.
Monmouth's command, building up at Lyme, suffered a setback when one of his commanders shot another in a dispute over a horse on Seatown Beach, and his soldiers then bungled an encounter with Royal militia at Bridport, both harbingers of disaster to come.
His army were mostly farmers, often youths, armed only with scythes. (Though he never wrote an account of his involvement, one was the future journalist and historical novelist Daniel Defoe, then age 25. Born the year of the Restoration, he had grown up a Puritan, and joined Monmouth's forces. It was supposedly while he was hiding in a local graveyard from militia that he chanced to see the distinctive name Robinson Crusoe on a gravestone.) The Protestant nobility had encouraged Monmouth's return from exile but now, perhaps mindful of the financial penalties some paid after the 1651 escape, failed to come out in support. Monmouth headed northwest and was met in battle at Sedgemoor in Somerset on 6 July, by which time the summer weather had turned to heavy rains and his thousands of camp followers had begun to melt away. The "pitchfork army" of around 4,000 was devastated by the King's professional army of 9,000 with its artillery and trained cavalry and officers. The rout would go down in history as the "last battle fought on English soil."
Now began Monmouth's flight: it is said he headed into Dorset to take ship for the Continent just as his father had in 1651, and his route covered some of the same area. But this time there was no happy ending. With four companions, he rode over the Wiltshire Downs, entering Dorset not far from Trent (where his father had hidden), aiming for the nearest port, Poole, (some accounts say Christchurch) via the relatively unpopulated heathy wilderness of Cranborne Chase. But by the time they reached Woodyates Inn near the Hampshire boundary, their horses were played out. The group split up, and with just one [German] officer as companion, Monmouth set off on foot, changing clothes with a shepherd they met. Monmouth was now headed for Lymington, where the Mayor had proclaimed him a king and there was a rich supporter who could get him a ship. There was a nation-wide search on, complete with large reward, similar to the 1651 manhunt for his father, and his companions were soon arrested as the militia closed in.
Monmouth was finally found concealed in a large thicket known locally as The Island on Horton Heath near Verwood, by Royalist soldiers. They had been tipped off by a local woman, supposedly for the £5,000 reward on Monmouth's head (though how would she know who the shepherd really was?). In the event, she got £50, and it is said she was shunned by her neighbours ever after. The German officer had been caught near Fordingbridge and had told the soldier where he had left his companion - perhaps giving information for clemency. By a tree known thereafter as the Monmouth Ash [later the name of the local pub], the Duke was pulled out from cover by militiamen beating the bracken. He had been asleep in a ditch, exhausted. The Earl of Shaftesbury collected for posterity the “tradition of the neighbourhood” describing the historic moment:

“The Duke … having changed clothes with a peasant, endeavoured to make his way across the country to Christchurch. Being closely pursued, he made for the Island, and concealed himself in a ditch which was overgrown with fern and underwood. When his pursuers came up, an old woman gave information of his being in the Island, and of her having seen him filling his pocket with peas. The Island was immediately surrounded by soldiers, who passed the night there, and threatened to fire the neighbouring cotts. As they were going away, one of them espied the skirt of the Duke's coat, and seized him. The soldier no sooner knew him, than he burst into tears, and reproached himself for the unhappy discovery. The Duke when taken was quite exhausted with fatigue and hunger, having had no food since the battle but the peas which he had gathered in the field. The ash tree is still standing under which the Duke was apprehended, and is marked with the initials of many of his friends who afterwards visited the spot.”

Though he was trembling and unable to speak, Monmouth's humble shepherd's disguise was undone when the troopers found in his pocket a royal badge given him by his father. He was taken before a local magistrate, Anthony Etricke, at Holt Lodge, and from there to the market town of Ringwood, where he was held for several days at what was renamed Monmouth House [West St., near the church], while he wrote his uncle king James a desperate appeal for mercy - in vain. Monmouth also claimed he had converted to Catholicism, but priests sent to examine him said he was only interested in saving his skin. He was beheaded a week later, in a gruesomely botched execution which had the crowd threatening the executioner.
To deal summarily with the rest of the prisoners, the King sent his bloodthirsty Chief Justice, Judge Jeffreys, known as the Hanging Judge, who quickly condemned hundreds at the "Bloody Assizes." Jeffreys began by stopping en route near Ringwood to order Lady Alice Lisle of Moyles Court to be immediately burnt alive at the stake for hiding two rebels. In Dorset, the merest semblance of a trial was held by the splenetic Jeffreys in the Antelope Hotel at Dorchester, where 74 men were condemned to be executed, sometimes simply on the basis they had been absent from work during the rising. The wealthier were able to escape by following Jeffreys's 'advice' and paying him fines - the future author Daniel Defoe, for example, paid a heavy fine in land and money. Those without funds were less fortunate. In addition to perhaps a thousand men killed in battle, some 329 were hanged, drawn and quartered, their heads stuck on poles all around the County, and 890 others were shipped off to the West Indies as slave labour. This was in addition to dozens tortured and lynched, strung up on trees right after the battle
A dozen men were taken from Dorchester to Lyme to be hanged on what became known as Monmouth Beach - the spot chosen as this where the Duke had landed just over a month before, bringing the trail full circle.

Aftermath: The Glorious Revolution Of 1688
It's been said (e.g. by the Parliamentary website Explore-Parliament.net) of the Bloody Assizes that “Such behaviour after Sedgemoor was a significant contributory cause of James II's enforced abdication a few years later.” The king's abdication was brought about partly by a cabal who met locally. In 1686, the owner of Charborough Park estate north of Wareham, who was also an MP and the County's Deputy Lieutenant, hosted a meeting of a group of MPs secretly plotting the return of Protestant monarchy, and the overthrow of "the tyrant race of Stuarts." (They met in the estate's ice-house for security.) The plan to depose James II came to fruition when news spread that he had had a son, and thus a Catholic heir to the throne. A parliamentary deputation invited William of Orange and his wife, James's daughter Mary, to land from Holland, again in the West Country (Torbay this time), which he did on 5 November 1688. The date was chosen for its symbolism, commemorated annually as an official holiday, Bonfire Night, on the date of the Gunpowder Plot (“Remember, remember, the 5th of November”), where a Catholic group had tried to blow up James I and his Parliament in 1605, to replace him with a puppet ruler (his young daughter).
To ensure there would be no easy military solution as there had been with Monmouth, William landed with a force of over 20,000 men. From Torbay, William marched east via Sherborne Castle, its owners the Digby family being his supporters. There he made his declaration that he came as a liberator and not as a conqueror. As William's army made slow progress over muddy roads, there could easily have been a 3rd civil-war battle in this area. But after word spread that the King's Army had changed sides under its hero the Duke of Marlborough John Churchill, James fled without a fight (casting Parliament's Great Seal into the Thames in a vain attempt to deny them power). He was captured, but William let him flee abroad to avoid his becoming a Catholic martyr. The hated Judge Jeffreys fled disguised as a sailor but was caught and died soon after in the Tower, age 43, and was buried there, next to Monmouth. A Bill of Rights was forced on William by the Commons, curtailing the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, which would prevent future kings from suspending or bypassing elected Parliaments the way Charles I and James II had tried to do.
This was the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, which finally settled the main issue of a non-Catholic succession in England, though it launched a whole new civil war in Ireland, where James tried his final comeback, being defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689. His daughter Mary would become head of the Church of England and co-ruler of England (as Mary II) with her husband (also related to the Stuarts) as William III, and the dynasty would continue via Mary's sister, James's younger daughter Anne. Last of the Stuarts to rule, she became Queen Anne of England and Scotland, which became one Parliamentary kingdom by the Act Of Union 1707. After she died in 1714 without any surviving heir (all her 17 children died before her), Protestant cousins were drafted in from the German states, despite attempts in 1715 and 1745 by James's exiled son and then grandson to retake England based on landings in Scotland. These failed, the last attempt ending with the disastrous battle of Culloden.
The lengthy reign of the Protestant Hanoverian kings (4 Georges and another William) now began, lasting over a century; the next queen, Victoria, was also from a German background and married a German prince. (The royal family changed its name from von Saxe-Coburg Gotha to Windsor due to anti-German feeling in WWI.). This long reign by German Protestant monarchs was the outcome of the Act of Settlement 1701, which permanently excluded Catholics from power. To this day, it is still not possible for anyone who marries a Catholic to become king or queen of England.

A captive Charles I beset by Cromwell's Puritan soldiers who mock him, just before his execution in 1649. In 1651, his son the future Charles II would narrowly escape the same fate by fleeing across Dorset to the coast, with Roundhead soldiers one step behind him all the way. He returned from exile in 1660 to restore the monarchy.

A political cartoon showing Cromwell and his fellow Puritan republicans depicted as chopping apart the "royal oak" of the British state. This would lead to the "royal oak" becoming a popular symbol of the Restoration - see below.

A not especially realistic painting of c1661 by Isaac Fuller, which now hangs in Parliament, showing a disguised Charles II and his helper Jane Lane riding "pillion" as they pose as mistress and servant to fool the Roundheads during his 1651 escape.


The Royal Wedding
Charles was crowned on St George's Day 23 April 1661, and married exactly a year to the day later. For those interested in the (currently topical) Royal Wedding aspect, Charles was married by proxy on 23 April 1662, his bride Catherine de Braganza being still in Lisbon. After this “state” ceremony, he prudently had two more wedding ceremonies after she arrived: a public Church Of England one, and a private or secret Catholic one. According to popular tradition, the bride then held the first tea party. (Catherine is credited with introducing tea drinking to Britain, via the practice of High Tea.)

Catherine of Braganza


After the king's feat of hiding up an oak tree while Roundheads searched below became common knowledge with the Restoration, inns and pubs all around England were renamed The Royal Oak. (This example is at North Gorley in the New Forest.)



A romantic portrait of Charles's favourite illegitimate son James Scott the Duke of Monmouth.





The ignominious end of the Somerset & Dorset Rising of 1685 and the defeated Monmouth's subsequent flight across Dorset to try to elude government soldiers: king's militia uncover the pretender to the throne hiding in a thicket in Cranborne Chase.

His uncle James II having refused clemency, Charles's son the Duke of Monmouth is beheaded, in a badly botched execution. It took the nervous headsman half dozen cuts with axe and knife to sever Monmouth's head.


The aged widow Lady Alice Lisle is arrested at her manor near Ringwood for harbouring two dissenters accused of being Monmouth accomplices. Chief Justice Judge Jeffreys ordered her burnt alive for treason, but the king commuted her sentence to public beheading at Winchester. This was just the first of many such reprisals taken officially against any perceived Monmouth supporters.



A romantic official portrait of William Of Orange on his palfrey. He landed at Torbay in 1688 with a large army to effect the so-called Glorious Revolution, i.e. reclaim England as a Protestant kingdom which would forego the Stuart idea of absolute monarchy, the Divine Right of kings, in favour of a parliamentary system.


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