Saturday, 16 July 2011

Charles I and the Isle of Wight

My brother and myself recently returned from the sunny Isle of Wight. One of the main historical attractions there is Carisbrooke Castle. The most famous resident of the castle was, of course Charles I. The onsite museum contains Civil War armour and more interestingly several personal possessions of King Charles I.The majority of the notes below are taken verbatim from the information panels at the castle

“Defeated in the English Civil War which had raged since 1642, King Charles I was under house arrest at Carisbrooke for 10 months in 1647-1648.

At first he had the freedom of the island but early in 1648 John Burley of Newport tried to free him, failed and was hanged. Afterwards Charles was confined to the castle. Still he could walk and play bowels on a green made for him."
View of Carisbrooke Castle from the gatehouse looking towards the motte. Charles’s bedroom was located in the central building behind the ten paneled window in the middle of the picture. The large glazed window replaced a much smaller one. The second attempt was from ruined buildings to the left
Aided by his page, Henry Firebrace, the king tried to escape twice more. In the first attempt he climbed through a window in his bedchamber but he got stuck in the bars."

King Charles slept here (although not in this bed)
Medieval fireplace, King Charles I's bedroom
“This room was the king’s bedroom during his first five months at the castle, from November 1647 to April 1648.

At first he was treated as a quest, but in January he became a prisoner, and guards were place on his bedroom doors. Charles attempted to escape from a small window in this room on the night of 20th March1648, assisted by his loyal servant Henry Firebrace.

There are many later additions here, but the king would have been familiar with the large medieval fireplace, and the medieval chapel window and squint (to the right of the bed).

The bed and chests are reproductions in the style of the 17th century. They have been installed to suggest the style of furniture brought here from Hampton Court in 1647.”

Ruined kitchen and bedroom block
Brother acting as money grabbing guard under the escape window
"The second attempt was made in this area, where kitchens and bedrooms had been built by George Carey 60years before. Charles tried to climb out of the window above... but he was betrayed by two guards. They had taken money to let him escape but then cruelly turned him in.”

On 29th November 1648 Charles was transferred across the Solent to Hurst Castle and then on to London for his trial and eventual execution 30th January 1649.

The isle wasn’t a happy place for the Stuart family.

Parliament was anxious that the children of King Charles could not be used any Royalist plot to restore the Monarchy. Princess Elizabeth and Henry Duke of Gloucester were moved to the Isle of Wight when their brother Charles II arrived in Scotland. It was determined that the Royal children should be imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle. They arrived at Cowes on 13th August 1650.

Never blessed with strong health Elizabeth died, aged 14, on 8th September 1650 probably from pneumonia and was later buried in St. Thomas Church, Newport.

The church fell into disrepair and the princess’s grave was forgotten until 1793 when it was rediscovered by accident. When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made the Isle of Wight their family home they felt the final resting place of one of the forebears needed a decent memorial hence the sculptured monument that marks Princess Elizabeth’s final resting place.
18th Century nameplate
Sculpture by Carlo Marochetti
St. Thomas's Church in Newport, Isle of Wight
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Henry Duke of Gloucester was allowed to move to the Continent where he fought against the Spanish. Shortly after the Restoration he died from smallpox, 18th September 1660, aged 20.