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King Charles II (1649-1685)
The Last Days of Charles II (1) : James calls Fr Huddleston to his brother’s deathbed, ready for a most delicate task.
The Last Days of Charles II
Part one

Based on ‘The History of England from the Accession of James II’, Vol. I, by Thomas Babington Macaulay.

As King, Charles II was officially the Head of the Church of England, an ever-so-modern, Protestant church. But like his father before him, and his brother James, his sympathies lay with the older Roman ways, and in 1685, lying in his bed at Whitehall Palace and facing his last hours on earth, he had an agonising decision to make.

IT was, they said, not unusual for Chiffinch, Charles’s confidential servant, to bring certain charming visitors up the back stairs to his master’s bedroom.

Now the King lay upon his deathbed, however, the visitor was of another kind: a Roman Catholic priest named Fr Huddleston, who had once hidden him from a search-party of Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War.

James, Duke of York, had been too busy writing himself into his brother’s Will to notice that the Church of England’s clergy could not persuade Charles to receive holy communion at their hands; it was Louise, Duchess of Portsmouth and the King’s mistress, who brought it to his attention.

James bent low, and whispered something in the king’s ear, who replied for all to hear ‘Yes, yes, with all my heart.’

Charles’s mystified courtiers were shepherded out of the royal bedchamber, and left to exchange their suspicions in the corridor. Presently, the door opened; a glass of water was taken in; then it closed again.

Based on ‘The History of England from the Accession of James II’, Vol. I, by Thomas Babington Macaulay.

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Modern History (138) The English Civil War (3) Stuart Era (16) History (406)

Picture: © Brian Robert Marshall, Geograph. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. View original
King Charles II was just 21 when defeat at the Battle of Worcester on September 3rd, 1651, cost him his crown. He found refuge here at Boscobel House in Staffordshire, and when Cromwell’s soldiers came knocking the family’s Catholic chaplain, Fr Huddleston, lent the King his priest-hole in the attic. It was not his only hiding place: here in the gardens is the more famous ‘Royal Oak’. Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France before returning in triumph to England, at Parliament’s own invitation, in 1660.

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