The nine journeys of Charles

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Out the days of the escape, Charles made nine journeys over seventeen active days and covered an estimated 441 miles, nearly all of it on horseback. These are the journeys:

CoverageDate(s) [number of days] Mileage per google mapsModeAssumed identityAccompanied by:
Post battle

Worcester to White Lades Priory, near Boscobel House
3 September 1651 [1]
HorseHimselfLord Wilmot, Swan, Lord Derby, Giffard, Francis Yates I plus other officers
2Boscobel loop

White Ladies to Madeley Hall and back to Boscobel.
4-5 September 1651 [2]23FootWoodsman, Will JonesRichard Penderel
3Moseley trip

Boscobel to Moseley Old Hall
7 September 1651 [1]
Humphrey Penderel's mill-horseWill JonesThe Penderel brothers plus Francis Yates II
4Bentley trip

Moseley Old Hall to Bentley Hall
9 September 1651 [1]
HorseWill JonesLord Wilmot, Swan, John Penderel, Colonel Lane
5Cotswold journey

Bentley Hall to Old Leigh Court
10-12 September 1651 [3]96HorseWilliam Jackson, servant to Jane LaneWilmot, Swan, both riding ahead; Jane Lane, Henry Lascelles
6Trent Manor Journey

Old Leigh Court to Trent Manor
16-17 September 1651 [2]50
HorseWilliam Jackson, servant to Jane LaneWilmot, Swan, Jane Lane, Henry Lascelles
7Charmouth loop

Trent Manor to Charmouth, then to Bridport, Broadwindsor and back to Trent
22-24 September 1651 [3]60HorseWilliam Jackson, servant to Wilmot who himself was posing as a runaway bridegroomWilmot, Swan, Francis Wyndham, Henry Peters and Juliana Coningsby
8Heale House Journey

Trent Manor to Heale House
6 October 1651 [1]45HorseWilliam JacksonPhelips, Henry Peters and Juliana Coningsby
9To Shoreham and away13 - 15 October 1651 [3]110HorseWilliam JacksonFirstly Phelips, later Wilmot, Swan and Gunter
[Total days on the road - 17]Total mileage - 441

The horse question

I must confess, I have a nagging doubt about these mileages (pun intended). That is, could the horses possibly have completed these journeys in the time apparently taken? I am informed that 20 miles a day is good going, 30 just barely possible. But Charles was frequently doing more than this. Was he perhaps changing horses? During that time, officers or messengers in a hurry would often change horses at local farms, inns and plantations, perhaps every twelve-fifteen miles, leaving behind their original horse and a receipt. Sometimes they would return the way they came, retrieving their original mount. Other times, they would not return but send the borrowed mount back with someone else. Only messengers and high ranking officers and staff traveled quickly enough to require rotations, so relying on citizens was a reasonable practice.

That would seem to be the answer and would explain the fairly frequent references to refreshment stops; however, there are two thngs against this:

  • At Charmouth, Wilmot’s horse was recognised as being from the Midlands as it had a shoe that originated in Worcestershire. So, if this is true, he must have used the same horse throughout.
  • Secondly and more generally, the party would have been anxious to avoid scrutiny – so would not have wanted to draw attention to themselves by leaving a trail of witnesses to their movements.

So the answer is – I don’t know. Any suggestion on a postcard please.