Charles II Tour: Fugitive King and Merry Monarch
Driven into exile on the Continent after the execution of his father at the end of the English Civil War, Charles II is a romantic figure, famed for his lively, hedonistic court and his womanising. Once he lost the Battle of Worcester to Oliver Cromwell, he was on the run and was forced to hide several times as he made his way to the south coast and safety. He was eventually restored to the throne after nine years in exile, during which time England had been a Commonwealth. Known as the 'Merry Monarch', Charles' reign was still marred by events such as the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London, religious strife and doubt over the succession.
Tour highlights include:
- Worcester, where Charles' army was defeated by Cromwell, to see his headquarters, the Civil War Centre, the battlefield and the Cathedral.
- Boscobel and the famous Royal Oak, where Charles hid, and Moseley Old Hall with its 'priest's hole'.
- His escape route through Stratford upon Avon, Stow on the Wold and Cirencester, an inn where he secretly hid and his 'safe houses' in Salisbury and Hambledon.
- City tour of London including key sites such as St James' Palace, where Charles was born; the site of his great Palace of Whitehall; Westminster and the Houses of Parliament; Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire started; the Great Fire Monument; Covent Garden, which he leased to the Duke of Bedford with permission to start a Market and a typical tavern; the Royal Opera House and Theatre Royal; Westminster Abbey, where he was crowned and buried.
- St Paul's Cathedral, which burnt to the ground during the Great Fire of 1666. See a model of Old St Paul's, artefacts that survived the Great Fire in 1666 and Sir Christopher Wren's tomb.
- The Tower of London with its White Tower and the famous ravens which Charles wanted protected.
- War, Plague and Fire Gallery at the Museum of London and optional Great Fire of London Walking Tour.
- Hampton Court Palace, where Charles installed his mistress, Barbara Villiers, as Keeper and Chief Steward and where he spent his honeymoon with his wife, Katherine of Braganza. Also the 'Secrets of the Bedchamber' exhibition.
Photographs: Main image: 2 actors in 17th Century costume at Hampton Court Palace ©VisitBritain/Historic Royal Palaces; St Paul's Cathedral, London ©visitlondonimages/britainonview/Pawel Libera; Houses of Parliament, London ©visitlondonimages/britainonview.