Boscobel House was built in about 1632, when John Giffard of Whiteladies converted a timber-framed farmhouse into a hunting lodge. The Giffard family were Roman Catholics, at a time when the religion suffered persecution. Tradition holds that the true purpose of Boscobel was to serve as a secret place for the shelter of Catholics in times of need.
The house was, however, destined for greater fame. Following the execution of King Charles I in 1649, his eldest son made a brave though misguided attempt to regain the throne. In 1651 his hopes were crushed at Worcester in the final conflict of the Civil War. Young Charles was forced to flee for his life.
Initially the future King Charles II set out to cross the River Severn into Wales, but found his way blocked by Cromwell's patrols. He sought refuge instead at Boscobel, hiding first in a tree which is now known as The Royal Oak and then spending the night in a priest-hole in the house's attic. He then travelled on in disguise via other safe houses before escaping to France.
Boscobel later became a much visited place, although it remained a working farm. Visitors can also see the dairy, farmyard, smithy, gardens, and a descendant of The Royal Oak. White Ladies Priory, another of Charles's hiding places, is nearby