King Charles House

  • 17 Jan 2012
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On the corner of the Cornmarket and New Street stood the most important house in this part of the city. Now called King Charles House, it was built by Richard Durant, a wealthy brewer, in 1577 as a two-storey house.
At the time of the Civil War Mr Edward Durant, Richard's grandson, was the owner and it was he who acted as host to Prince Charles when he made the house his headquarters in 1651. It was a fortunate choice for the future king, for after the disastrous battle the house offered the only possible exit out of the city. Tradition has it that the Parliamentary troopers arrived at the front door as Charles left by the small back enterance through the city walls, and mounted his horse. With Lord Wilmot he rode across the fields along the path now called Sansome Walk, to Barbourne Brook where, feeling themselves safe for a while, they paused to consider which road to take. They decided on the Ombersley Road and to make for the crossing of the Severn. So began one of the greatest escapes in British history.

It was probably Edward Durant who modified the house, dividing and extending the northern bay (now King Charles Restaurant) to form a separate dwelling. To compensate for the lost space he built another storey onto the existing building. In the 1660s the house belonged to William Woodward. The persistent tradition that the Berkeleys of Spetchley were the owners does not appear to be bourne out by documentary evidence. Their Worcester house was in Mealcheapen Street, round the corner.