A brief history of The Royal Oak

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Photo: Michael Boden

Victoria, granddaughter of The Royal Oak, produced the acorns that are now in Quebec City and will eventually be planted near the Hale family memorial in Mount Hermon Cemetery.

In 1649, King Charles I of England was executed by government revolutionaries in an attempt to end the absolute monarchy. His son, Prince Charles, was proclaimed King of Scotland but not recognized in England, and fled after his military defeat in Worcester in 1651.

Fearing for his life, Charles II escaped the parliamentary soldiers giving chase. When he arrived at Boscobel House, he first hid in a great oak tree on the grounds, and then in the house, thus escaping possible execution. He then fled to France. Nine years later Charles returned to England, and the monarchy was restored.

Over the years, The Royal Oak where Charles is said to have hidden fell victim to its fame and was stripped of its branches for souvenirs. This pillaging ultimately led to its destruction. Luckily, an acorn from The Royal Oak sprouted an offspring, which is the tree that stands today.

In 2001, a third-generation tree, called “The Prince of Wales,” was planted to mark the 350th anniversary of the escape of King Charles II. This planting was also part of The Royal Oak’s succession plan because its predecessor had been severely damaged by storms in 2000.

Another third-generation tree exists on the grounds of Boscobel House. It was planted in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The Royal Oak’s “granddaughter,” named Victoria, still stands strong today and continues to produce healthy acorns.

It is offspring acorns from Victoria that have now found their way from Shropshire to Quebec City. We are hopeful a fourth-generation descendant of the mighty tree will germinate and be planted alongside the Hale Family monument at Mount Hermon Cemetery.

Keep reading the QCT for updates in the months to come.