King Charles II

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

Probably the first monarch to come to Brighton, but his visit was very brief! Following the defeat at Worcester on 3 September 1651, Charles travelled to Sussex with Lord Wilmot in the hope of escaping to France. Wilmot approached Colonel Gounter of Racton, who in turn approached a merchant who traded with France, Francis Mansell. Through him, Gounter was introduced to Nicholas Tettersell of Brighton, who agreed to take two passengers to France for £60 in his small coal brig, the Surprise.

Charles and Wilmot stayed at the George Inn in West Street {3} on 14 October 1651 where the landlord, Anthony Smith, recognised the King even though he had shorn his locks, but swore his loyalty. Tettersell also recognised the King and demanded a fee of £200 for the passage. In the early hours of 15 October 1651, Charles, Wilmot, Gounter and Mansell rode to Shoreham where the boat was moored, and Charles, Wilmot, Tettersell and a crew of four sailed for F..e/.camp where they arrived the next morning; the King was carried ashore on the shoulders of one Thomas Carver.

Charles, of course, returned to England at the Restoration of 1660. Tettersell, having renamed his boat the Royal Escape, was granted the rank of captain in the navy and was given command of the Monk from 1661 until he was dismissed. In December 1663, Tettersell, his wife, son and daughter were granted a pension of £100 per annum for 99 years, and he was given a ring as a memento. In 1671 he became landlord of the Old Ship Inn, but his year as high constable was noted for his persecution of non-conformists. Tettersell is buried in St Nicholas’s Churchyard.

Some years later Thomas Carver returned from the West Indies and, finding many of his Quaker friends imprisoned, personally approached the King to ask for their release. Charles, surprised that Carver had not presented himself sooner, agreed to release six Quakers; Carver did not consider this a fair recompense for saving a king’s life, apparently to the King’s delight! In return, 471 Quakers and 20 other Dissenters, including John Bunyan, were eventually pardoned in 1672.

The flight of Charles II is remembered annually by the Royal Escape yacht race, and by the Royal Escape public house on Marine Parade.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.The following resource(s) is quoted as a general source for the information above:

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