Many locals and history fanatics know the story of Boscobel House and its famous oak tree as the hiding place where Charles II famously hid after fleeing Oliver Cromwell's armies in 1651.
The site on the Shropshire and Staffordshire border has undergone a huge renovation project as bosses at English Heritage invested £950,000 in a re-interpretation project at the site.
English Heritage is welcoming visitors back into its historic buildings from Monday by extending access to the interiors of more than 50 of its properties which are currently open to visitors as outdoor spaces only.
As part of the project, Boscobel House has had the addition of a new play area, the introduction rare breed animals, a tea room and shop revamp and interactive interpretation within the house.
Liz Page, territory director for the West at English Heritage, said: “Boscobel is a unique site. It is a Civil War gem, vividly depicting one of the most iconic stories in English history.
"However, it later became a working farm after Charles II’s escapades and, as such, retains an extraordinary collection of Victorian farm buildings and machinery. This fantastic investment has enabled us to breath life into both of these important stages in Boscobel’s history, with visitors able to explore the lodge, farmyard and gardens, as well as see a descendant of the Royal Oak in which the future king hid.
"There’s lots for families too, with the introduction of farmyard animals, a fun willow tunnel and an exciting new play area before the chance to enjoy refreshments in the refurbished tea room."
A picturesque timber-framed house, Boscobel was a hiding place for persecuted Catholics during the Civil War. Forced to flee for his life following defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles II famously took refuge from Cromwell’s armies in an oak tree at Boscobel, before spending the night in the house’s priest hole.
One of history’s great adventure stories, today almost 500 pubs across the country are named after Boscobel’s Royal Oak.
Now, thanks to the new investment, visitors to the site will have plenty more to explore.
As part of the relaunch, rare and local breed animals, including Tamworth pigs and Ryeland sheep, have been introduced to the cobbled farmyard and period barns. Bosses hope this will make it look and feel as it would have done almost 170 years ago as a thriving Victorian farm.
They have also replanted the woodland that once surrounded the Royal Oak, using saplings propagated from the original. The Royal Oak has cut a solitary figure for more than 200 years but this lost oak pasture is gradually being restored and visitors will get a better sense of how it looked when Charles II hid there in the 17th century.
There will also be a new play area and an all new interpretation which tells the story of the property. Visitors can explore all the nooks and crannies, discovering Boscobel’s secret priest holes.
The 17th century gardens, where Charles II is said to have relaxed after the soldiers departed, have been recreated. An orchard has been reintegrated into the grounds, as well as beds of plants used for medicine and dyes, period flowers and vegetables.
Finally, the facilities on site have been revamped including a new and improved café offering, shop and toilets.
To find out more, visit english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/boscobel-house-and-the-royal-oak.