Bible belonging to the priest who smuggled King Charles II out of England during Civil War set to fetch thousands at auction

Bible belonged to Father John Huddleston who helped King Charles II escape The priest helped the King to flee England for France during English Civil War Auctioneers estimate item, which bears priest's signature, could fetch £2,000 

The bible belonging to the priest who was able to smuggle King Charles II out of the England during the Civil War is expected to fetch thousands at an auction.

Father John Huddleston’s bible has an estimated sale price of at least £2,000, having been bought for today’s equivalent of just two and a half pence in the 1950s.

The ‘very rare’ item belonged to Father Huddleston when he arranged for King Charles II to be transported to the safety of France during the English Civil War in 1651.

With the help of the priest and a network of Royalist gentry, the monarch was able to escape the country, first by attempting to get out via Wales, then onto Bristol disguised as a servant, then to the south coast at Charmouth disguised as an eloping lover.

He finally rode east to Shoreham when he took a coal boat to France.

The 'very rare' item belonged to Father Huddleston when he arranged for King Charles II to be transported to the safety of France during the English Civil War in 1651

The ‘very rare’ item belonged to Father Huddleston when he arranged for King Charles II to be transported to the safety of France during the English Civil War in 1651

The 'very rare' item even features the signature of the priest, further increasing its value at auction

The ‘very rare’ item even features the signature of the priest, further increasing its value at auction

Auctioneer John Crane says it could be 'assumed quite comfortably that this bible was present at the death of King Charles'

Auctioneer John Crane says it could be ‘assumed quite comfortably that this bible was present at the death of King Charles’

Father Huddleston met the monarch at Moseley Hall in Wolverhampton, where the King was staying as a resting place during his escape. While there, the priest tended to his feet, which were bruised and bleeding.

He spent two days hiding at Moseley Hall, before Parliamentary troops arrived. Upon their arrival, Father Huddleston was one of many who hid him in a priest hole, secreted behind the wall of a bedroom.

No longer feeling safe at Moseley Hall, the King moved onto Bentley Hall, near Walsall, where he disguised himself as a servant and successfully made it to Bristol on onwards to France.

He would remain in exile in Europe until 1660, when he returned to Britain.

In return for the English crown, he promised a general pardon for crimes committed during the English Civil War and the Interregnum for all those who recognised King Charles II as the lawful King.

In 1685, Father Huddleston and the King would meet again, when the priest attended the monarch’s death bed to convert him to the Catholic faith. He heard his confession before administering his last rites, reconciling him to the Church and absolving him.

Auctioneer John Crane says it could be ‘assumed quite comfortably that this bible was present at the death of King Charles.’

And it is made all the more special by the fact is contains the signature of Father Huddleston.

‘To buy this item is buying a piece of history,’ he said. ‘The signature alone is probably worth £600 to £800 but the lift in the value would be the fact that it’s his personal bible.

‘Most other books you can put a commercial value on, because they’ve been sold before, but this book is so unique, there’s no track record to go on.’

Talking about the importance of the bible, Mr Crane added: ‘Its association with King Charles and the friendship between him and Father Huddleston makes it unique.

‘If it wasn’t for Father Huddleston organising King Charles II’s escape, it might have changed the whole course of history.’

Given its historical significance, it is hoped the bible will not be sequestered after purchase

Given its historical significance, it is hoped the bible will not be sequestered after purchase

Father John Huddleston's bible has an estimated sale price of at least £2,000, having been bought for today's equivalent of just two and a half pence in the 1950s

Father John Huddleston’s bible has an estimated sale price of at least £2,000, having been bought for today’s equivalent of just two and a half pence in the 1950s

Given its historical significance, Mr Crane hopes the bible will not be sequestered after purchase.

‘I’m hoping that a public body or museum will buy it so that it can be on view for the general public to enjoy and see,’ he said.

‘This isn’t about money, it’s about trying to make sure it goes into safe hands and safe-keeping for the benefit of the general public.’

The bible is part of a timed international auction on thesaleroom.com/catocrane, which will close on March 30.

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