Things to See and Do
The Royal Oak
Following the execution of King Charles I in 1649, his eldest son made a brave though misguided attempt to regain the throne. In 1651 his hopes were crushed at Worcester in the final conflict of the Civil War. Young Charles was forced to flee for his life. Initially the future King Charles II set out to cross the River Severn into Wales, but found his way blocked by Cromwell's patrols. He sought refuge instead at Boscobel, hiding first in a tree, which is now known as The Royal Oak.
The oak you see today is a descendent of tree where Charles hid, and beside it, is a replacement grown from an acorn of the oak, which was planted by the Prince of Wales in 2001, on the 350th anniversary of Charles’s visit.
The Hunting Lodge
Built in about 1632, Boscobel House, originally a timber-framed farmhouse, was converted into a hunting lodge by John Giffard of Whiteladies. The Giffard family were Roman Catholics, at a time when the religion suffered persecution, and tradition holds that the true purpose of Boscobel was to serve as a secret place for the shelter of Catholics in times of need.
Find out more about the history of the lodge, and the conservation work which is currently being undertaken here, by joining our guided tours which run each day at 11am and 2pm. Tours are included within the admission price, but booking in advance is advisable as places are limited.
A King's Hiding Place
Moving from his hiding place in The Royal Oak, the future King Charles II spent the night hiding in a priest-hole in the lodge at Boscobel; the next day he travelled on in disguise via other safe houses before escaping to France.
You can see the priest-hole where Charles spent the night of 6 September 1651 in the attic of the lodge, there is also a second priest-hole built into a chimney stack off the Squire's Room, which was originally the escape route down to the garden.
Boscobel's farmyard is a well-preserved example of a 19th-century small 'planned farm'. Quiet and peaceful today, it would have once been a busy, working farm.
See the range of Victorian farm machinery, discover the smithy, stables, cowhouse and dairy – and say hello to the chickens which freely roam the yard.
White Ladies Priory
Enjoy spectacular views over the fields on the two-mile round walk to the ruins of White Ladies Priory, the late 12th-century church where Charles II hid before moving to Boscobel House.
The Knot Garden
Boscobel’s garden is typical of the type which would have been at the house in the 17th-century, with rectangular parterre beds, native honeysuckle and old species of lavender, box and santolina.
Don’t miss the small mound, on top of which was a “pretty arbour” where Charles is said to have spent a few hours reading in 1651.
Family Fun & Games
Get hands-on with history in the family room, try on armour, dress as a Roundhead or Cavalier and get creative at the art table. In the warmer months, enjoy family fun with Victorian games in the garden.