The Great Escape

Charles II’s escape

William Ellesdon was a Royalist who was to potentially risk his life in 1654 insupport of Charles II. Charles stayed the night at Abbots House in Charmouth in a bid to escape to France the following day from Charmouth.

A huge reward was being offered for the capture of King Charles, and Ellesdon’s wife became suspicious of her husband’s loyalty and proceeded to lock him in their house so that he could not meet the King at the beach at the allotted hour.

An ostler called to one of the King’s horses became suspicious that this was the king, and went to seek advice from Bartholomew Wesley (a resident of Charmouth, and father to John Wesley) but, as he was in the middle of reading prayers at the church, there was some delay, by which time Charles had escaped. William Ellesdon’s nephew commissioned an elaborate marble monument to his uncle. The monument was subsequently transferred to the present church on the same site in 1836.

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