Shropshire woodland that hid Charles II to be restored

New trees will be planted in the grounds of Boscobel House, propagated from the DNA of the Royal Oak linked to Charles II 

The woodland that once surrounded the Royal Oak – Charles II’s famous hiding place - is being replanted.

The Royal Oak has cut a solitary figure in the field behind Boscobel House in Shropshire for more than 200 years. But now, thanks to a major reinterpretation project at the site, this lost oak pasture is being restored. 

Boscobel House and its Royal Oak tree became famous as a hiding place for King Charles II after defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The oak you see today is a descendant of the tree where Charles hid. 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.

English Heritage’s Gardens Supervisor at Boscobel House, Andrew Degg, said:

'We want to help people who come to Boscobel to imagine how it was that Charles managed to evade capture by hiding in a tree. 

'It’s hard to picture it now as the Royal Oak is so exposed, but during the Civil War the whole field would have been populated by large oak trees.'

32 young saplings are being planted in the Royal Oak field as the gardeners at Boscobel House gradually recreate the oak pasture as it was in the 17th Century.

Working with a master propagator, Nick Dunn of Frank P Matthews Nursery, English Heritage have also propagated a further 10 trees from Royal Oak DNA using both acorns and graft wood.

This procedure was carried out by collecting young, healthy shoots from the crown of the oak and grafting these on to healthy oak rootstocks.

These new trees will need to be cared for by Nick Dunn for two years before they are ready to plant.

While Boscobel House is most famous for being one of the hiding places of King Charles II after the Battle of Worcester defeat, it was also a prosperous Victorian Farm.

As part of this project, English Heritage plans to introduce rare breed animals like Tamworth pigs, Shropshire and Ryeland sheep and a range of poultry. This will give a sense of what the farm looked (smelled and sounded) like in its heyday. 

Boscobel is currently closed until the summer but please visit our webpage to plan your trip later in the year. 

Find out more about Charles II and the Royal Oak.

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