A 400-year-old prayer book that once belonged to Fr John Huddleston, a priest who helped save the life of King Charles II, in the 1600s, is now on public display near Wolverhampton. It’s believed it could have been used to convert the former king on his deathbed.
Fr Huddleston was a Benedictine priest who lived at Moseley Old Hall with the Catholic Whitgreave family and served as their chaplain
After losing to the Roundheads at Worcester, Charles fled to Boscobel House in Shropshire and later arrived at Moseley Old Hall, where he sought refuge and the location to which the book will now return, more than 360 years later.
Fr Huddleston helped Charles hide in his first-floor room and a priest hole when armed soldiers arrived at the house. It is likely that Charles consulted books in Huddleston's library during his stay, including the copy of the Missale Romanum now in the hands of the National Trust.
Following nine years of exile and the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Charles made Huddleston chaplain to his Catholic mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, and later his wife, Catherine of Braganza. When Charles lay dying in 1685, he summoned Fr Huddleston to hear his confession and administer the Eucharist.
The trust acquired the book at auction.
The missal has joined a collection that includes portraits of Thomas Whitgreave, the owner of the hall at the time, and a letter from King Charles II thanking a local woman for helping him escape to France.