White Ladies Priory
Just outside are the ruins of a little priory.
For most of its history, this was an ordinary place of worship, home to a house of canonesses known as White Ladies.
However, this place did see some excitement: in the 17th century, Charles II came here, not as a royal guest but as a man on the run!
A perfectly pleasant priory
Founded near the end of the 12th century, this priory was dedicated to St Leonard and was managed by a small community of around six nuns.
What you can see here today was once the priory church, although now only its grand sandstone walls remain.
There was another priory nearby owned by a convent known as the Black Ladies, so in order to distinguish themselves, the nuns here called themselves the White Ladies after the colour of their robes.
Back in these days, this would have been an impressive building, full of nuns dressed in radiant white robes - but unfortunately, by the 16th century, it had been abandoned as a place of worship.
The priory passed into the ownership of a wealthy family who built a manor house around the ruins, increasing the size of this place massively.
By the time it was repurchased in the 19th century, it covered over 650 acres of land!
A king in hiding
The most amazing part of this place’s history, however, happened during the Third Civil War.
After being defeated in the Battle of Worcester, a young King Charles II fled and took refuge in a nearby church: the White Ladies Priory.
Here, he was helped into a disguise that would allow him to evade the Parliamentarians, dressed as a common peasant and covered in soot from the fireplace.
Charles then sought refuge in nearby Boscobel House, and it was during the day he spent here that he learned White Ladies Priory had been completely ransacked by Parliamentarian soldiers looking for him.
Thanking his lucky stars that he hadn’t spent another day there, Charles then escaped to France, successfully evading his enemies.
If you’re interested in Charles or the history of this area, be sure to also check out Boscobel House and the Royal Oak just a stone’s throw away.
The ruins of White Ladies Priory are well-preserved, remote and impressive.
It’s well worth taking the trip out here and exploring them for yourself, especially now that you know the epic events that happened in this very spot.
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