White Ladies Priory

White Ladies Priory

White Ladies Priory (often Whiteladies Priory) is in Shropshire, some eight miles northwest of Wolverhampton just off junction 3 of the M54 motorway.

It is famous as the first resting place on the escape journey of Charles II of England after the Battle of Worcester during his escape to France in 1651. The name 'White Ladies' refers to the nuns who lived there and who wore white (undyed) habits.

The priory was built in the grounds of a medieval nunnery. In 1535, White Ladies Priory was valued at having an annual income of less than £17 and, owing to an Act of Parliament in 1536, it was closed as its annual value was less than the £200 needed to keep the Priory open.

White Ladies was not was occupied by its owners, the Giffard family in 1651, but was run by housekeepers and servants. Among the tenants of the estate were five brothers called Penderell. (There had been six but one had been killed at the Battle of Edgehill.) They were woodmen and farm servants, living at different places in the neighbourhood, and looked after some of the houses such as White Ladies Priory and Boscobel House, which is about one mile away.

Charles Giffard escorted the King to White Ladies Priory early on 4 September, 1651, after riding throughout the night after the battle the previous day. They were admitted by a servant of the house named George Penderell. He sent for Richard Penderell, who lived in a farm house nearby, and for their elder brother William, who was at Boscobel. They took the king into an inner room, and disguised him. After failing to cross the River Severn, Charles returned to the estate on 6 September and spent the day in the grounds of Boscobel House hiding in the famous Royal Oak.

Whilst the large timber-framed nunnery has now gone, the remains of the nunneries medieval church and the nineteenth boundary wall of the small graveyard still remain.

In legend, the Priory is said to be where Queen Guinevere retired to after the death of King Arthur.

White Ladies is currently under the care of English Heritage.

External links

* [http://www.shropshiretourism.info/abbeys/whiteladies-priory/ Shropshire Tourism]
* [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/conProperty.354 English Heritage - entry on White Ladies Priory]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=3098948 www.geograph.co.uk : photos of White Ladies Priory and surrounding area]

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