Houses of Interest: Staffordshire

The continuing ECW Travelogue miniseries looking at houses/churches and places that have a Civil-War-connection-but-not-tied-to-a-bigger-event continues, this time focusing on Staffordshire. For some reason, rather than looking at the bit of Staffs that is a hop skip and a jump from Château KeepYourPowderDry I've started with the corner of Staffs that is furthest away.

The first entries look at the escape of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester.

First up is Moseley Old Hall on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, and is cared for by the National Trust. Moseley bills itself as "the home that saved a king" - considering the number of close calls that Charles had during his escape, this isn't really the unique selling point that you might expect it to be. I do wonder how many other houses, along the Monarch's Way could also make that claim?

Built about 1600, the National Trust have recreated a seventeenth century garden on the estate. A rather splendid knot garden being the highlight.

Moseley's role in Charles's escape: Charles is supposed to have turned up at the back door in the early morning of the 8th of September (a problem shared here at Château KeepYourPowderDry, errant royals turning up at all hours is a real nuisance), cold, wet and disguised as a workman. The Whitgreave's gave him a change of clothes, bathed and bandaged his bleeding feet (caused by ill fitting shoes) and fed him.

Parliamentarian troops came looking for Charles later that day, so the family hid Charles in a priest hole.


Thankfully, for Charles, the priest hole didn't have electric lighting as it would have been a dead giveaway

Once the troops had left, Charles was able to come out of hiding, staying at the house for two days before continuing his journey.

For a change, Charles was able to sleep in a bed - this bed in fact.

A young Charles II, he didn't particularly like this portrait

An even younger Charles II and his mother

What's there today?
There are a number of interesting portraits, other than the many of the royal family.

Charles disguised himself as a groomsman to Jane Lane. She facilitated his escape to Bristol, as she had a document allowing her passage to the port. Jane later had to flee to France when her involvement in Charles's escape became known.

A note of thanks from Charles II to Jane for her help in his escape, dated 1652. Later she would be awarded a £1000 pension and a further £1000 to buy a jewel.

Colonel Thomas Lane, Jane's brother, who was instrumental in helping Charles escape Worcester

One of the many Royal Oak images in the Hall

A morion and cuirass

Proclamation requesting information leading to the arrest of Charls Stuart and other Traytors

I liked it here, very atmospheric; well worth a visit.

Northycote Farm is a few miles away from Moseley Old Hall, and is run by the City of Wolverhampton. A Tudor farm 'steeped in history' it is free to visit, and is located on the Monarch's Way, a 615 mile long distance trail based upon the route taken by Charles II when he fled for France after the Battle of Worcester. For those slightly less ambitious with their walking there is a 3 mile trail connecting Moseley Old Hall with Northycote.

What's there today?
Sadly the Farm is vacant, however there is a café on the site that does rather good bacon butties (ample reward for walking there from Old Hall). It does look very pretty though.

Burton-Upon-Trent is now famous as for it's breweries, in the annals of history it was a strategic river of the Rivers Trent and Dove. So strategic that it was fought over in 1322 during the Despenser War. During the Civil Wars it was on the border between Parliamentarian held territory, and Royalist held territory. So you'd think who ever held it would have heavily fortified it; wrong!

Burton changed hands a number of times, before the major battle took place in 1643. Burton by this time was garrisoned by a small force under the command of Thomas Sanders, ultimately under the command of Sir John Gell. Gell had his eye on bigger prizes and was planning to take Stafford with support from Sir William Brereton's Cheshire Army, so had taken his eye off Burton .

Meanwhile Queen Henrietta Maria had landed at Bridlington with a sizeable supply of arms which was destined for Oxford; she had proceeded to Newark, where she awaited a substantial force led by Prince Rupert, who were supposed to clear a path through Staffordshire to enable the Queen and the arms shipment to arrive safely in Oxford. The Queen processed to Ashby de la Zouch before making her way to Burton. Gell hastily tried to muster the Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire Associations to defend Burton - but they refused. So Sanders faced the Queens army alone, knowing that Rupert was advancing from the other side of the river.

The battle was centred around the bridge; the Royalists, led by Thomas Tyldesley, charged their cavalry onto the bridge against Sanders's defenders. The ensuing fighting was described as 'bloody', Parliament decisively beaten in the carnage. The Royalists went onto sack Burton, Henrietta Maria writing  that her men "could not well march with their bundles".

It was claimed that thirty Parliamentarian prisoners were executed, many women were raped and at least twenty civilians drowned in the river, despite the Queen forbidding any violence towards the townspeople.

The old bridge was replaced in Victorian times; there is a plaque commemorating the events located on the western end of the bridge (southern side).

Whilst in Burton, it is worth a minor detour to Sinai Park House this Jacobean House stands on the site of a fourteenth century house, and it is claimed was the site of a minor skirmish during the wars.
Sinai Park House has limited opening so please check before travelling.

St Mary's Church, Patshull is a redundant church in the grounds of Patshull Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club. Access to the church is via a keyholder at the Patshull Park. An eighteenth century church built upon the foundations of a much earlier church it boosts some spectacular monuments. What draws the attention of the ECW Travelogue is the monument to Captain Sir Richard Astley of Henry Hasting, Lord Loughborough's Regiment of Horse. Carved on the monument is Sir Richard in procession, with a cornet flying and trumpeter with a banner. Both cornet and trumpet banner bear a cinquefoil - which is a really useful snippet for those of us wondering how to paint trumpeters.

Walsall Leather Museum: you may be wondering why a leather museum firmly in the West Midlands industrial belt appears in the ECWtravelogue.

Medieval Walsall was famed for its leather working; hence there is a Leather Museum there.

In its collection is an item that possibly/probably belonged to Prince Rupert. A horse's bit.

Does look a bit strange, but if you compare it to Van Dyck's portrait of Charles I on horseback, it makes much more sense

The gold bosses bear the emblem of the Palatinate and the motto of a knight of the Order of the Garter. Given that fact, and our realisation of the bit's age, and comparing the bosses to the stall plate over Rupert`s seat at Windsor, we deduce that it belonged to Rupert.

However, it is possible that it might have belonged to one of his brothers, who were also Knights of the Garter and entitled to use the same arms. So we can't categorically say that it was Rupert`s. In truth, too, the Museum of London argued that the bit was not of high enough quality to have been Rupert's.

The bit is not usually on display, so check prior to visiting. You may even be allowed a private viewing, like I was.

Postcodes for SatNavs
Moseley Old Hall, Wolverhampton WV10 7HY
Northycote Farm, Wolverhampton WV10 7JF
Burton Bridge, Bridge Street  DE14 1SY
Sinai Park House Shobnall Road DE13 0QJ
St Mary's Church, Patshull WV6 7HR
Walsall leather Museum (Day Street car park) WS2 8EL

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  1. Another interesting episode of your travelogue. Thanks!
    Presumably the leather-workers of Walsall is the origin of the football club’s nickname of the Saddlers.

    1. Thanks nundanket. As for Walsall FC, I would think that you are correct there (my footie knowledge is none existent).


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