When Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army won the Battle of Worcester in 1651, the British Monarchy seemed to be at an end. The only hopes for survival lay with the son of the executed King Charles I, the young man who claimed the title King Charles II but who was now a fugitive. After the battle was lost and won, his only chance was to escape the country to keep hopes of a restoration alive.
This website presents a collection of resources about Charles’s 43-day journey, which culminated in his escape to France and consequent survival to reclaim the throne in 1660. As a starting point, the map below shows a broad outline of the route taken by Charles:
The Monarch’s Way
This website has been inspired by the Monarch’s Way, a 625-mile walking route which approximately follows the path taken by Charles as he escaped the country. I am part of a small group who have completed around 90% of the walk and aim to complete the rest by October 2023. The story of our journey so far is to be found here.
The Monarch’s Way walk does not attempt to follow the precise roads taken by Charles as he sought to escape from the Roundhead troops – most such roads have long since been surfaced over. What the Monarch’s Way does instead is to join together the various towns, villages, country houses and inns associated with the escape using walker-friendly rights-of-way. The result is a unique lost-distance path – not merely because it is comfortably the longest way-marked inland walk in the UK, but also because it covers a wide variety of different landscapes. It passes through the Midlands, including the Black Country and the related World Heritage Site of Ironbridge Gorge, then extensively explores four Areas of Natural Beauty – the Cotswolds, the Mendips, Dorset and Cranborne Chase – before a memorable journey through the South Downs National Park and finally arriving at the Sussex coast. It is a spectacular tour of Western and Southern England.
The sources of information about the events of Charles’s escape are many and various. Not least, he dictated his own account to Samuel Pepys and this was published. In addition, about a third of the thirty or so people who assisted in his journey either had their own accounts published or contributed in a major way to an accounts of the events written by another party. Overall, their is very little of the broad sweep of the adventure that is not attested to by at least two sources, between which, only minor discrepancies ever occur. Of course, individual details such as which Inns were used for refreshment and overnight stops are not always explicit, and, on these occasions, local traditions often step in and make claims that are, to say the least, uncertain. Nonetheless, the story of Charles’s travels are as well attested as could possibly be expected for events of the time.
Please note, this website has been independently compiled by myself; it has no connection with the Monarch’s Way Association, who do much great work in way-marking and promoting the route.
John Price – firstname.lastname@example.org