History explorer: Charles II’s great escape
Charles Spencer and Charlotte Hodgman explore Boscobel House in Shropshire, where Charles II fled for his life after defeat to the forces of parliament
As dawn broke over Boscobel House on 6 September 1651, two figures hurried through the rain, heading for the safety of a huge leafy oak tree about 150 yards away. They rapidly disappeared up the tree, hiding from sight behind the lush foliage of its thick branches. To anyone witnessing their movements, the pair would have made for a curious sight. But onlookers would have been more astonished still by the identity of one of the two men. He was Charles II, king of Scotland, heir to the throne of England, and the most wanted man in the realm.