Missal of Priest Who Saved Charles II’s Life Acquired by National Trust


Moseley Old Hall

A missal owned by Fr John Huddleston, the Catholic priest who saved King Charles II's life after his defeat in the English Civil War, has been acquired by the National Trust.

The book, bearing the Benedictine priest's signature, will go on display at Moseley Old Hall, the National Trust property near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, where he was the chaplain. Supporters of the National Trust paid £6,900 ($8,600) for the missal when it came up for auction at Cato Crane Auctioneers, originally bought in the 1950s by a local family for sixpence from a Liverpool bookshop.

Cato Crane Auctioneers

Fr John Huddleston's missal

Huddleston not only hid the fleeing monarch in his own rooms but also administered the Eucharist to and received Charles II into the Catholic Church on his deathbed. The priest had been living and working with the Royalist Catholic Whitgreave family at the Hall, disguised as a servant. The King used several books in Huddleston’s library and it is very likely that the 1623 missal was one of these and probably present at the monarch's death. 

Meanwhile, collections belonging to the Myddelton family and spanning over 400 years of their occupation at Chirk Castle in Wrexham, North Wales, have been bought by the National Trust. A large collection of estate documents, dating as early as 1250, give glimpses into the story of the castle, its inhabitants and community over the centuries. Royal papers from seven different monarchs, beginning with Elizabeth I, and a document showing the first known depiction of Chirk Castle in 1563, are among dozens of manuscripts that have transferred to the Trust.

Of particular importance is a range of material relating to the English Civil War including notes, letters and a poster seeking and naming ‘traytors’ including Sir Thomas Myddelton the second, who supported Parliament at the start of the War but then transferred allegiance to Charles II for the restoration of the monarchy.

Lhosa Daly, Director for Wales, National Trust Cymru said: “Although many of the collection items we have purchased are already on display at the castle, our ownership now means we can fully research the objects and archives, and undertake conservation and technical analysis, all of which will allow us to offer new ways to experience them in their historic settings.