Before leaving to live abroad I lived only two miles from Boscobel and so I often took my bicycle for a spin around the lanes. When I was a teenager a friend had a car and sometimes we found ourselves driving past Boscobel at night and I always thought that it had a strange atmosphere. In the 1990s I was writing a book about a village the other side of Boscobel and a few times found myself driving past the house in the dark. I was ok driving towards the house and ok a hundred yards past it but driving by left me cold and my knuckles white with clenching the steering wheel. I interviewed many of the older residents of the village I was writing about and one lady said that during the war she worked in Wolverhampton and after work she would catch a bus to Codsall where she had left her bike at a relatives. The journey home took her past Boscobel. “I was all right cycling along the lane in the black out but I was terrified of cycling past Boscobel. I used to dread approaching it but once past I was fine.”
Teaching a class about the English Civil War I happened to mention Boscobel. The story of the escape of Charles Stuart was quite well known to the pupils as Jane Lane lived only a mile away at Bentley Hall, there was a near by school named after her and Charles’ escape route had taken him literally across the site of our school. One lad put up his hand and said, “My uncle lives near Boscobel at Bishops Wood. He takes his a dog for a walk around Boscobel but he won’t go at night because the dog goes mad.”
I’ve visited Boscobel House many times and always think that it is a cold place, totally lacking in atmosphere and this may be due to the extensive remodelling that has taken place over the years, but the lane outside, even to my rational mind, is another matter.
A memory shared byon Oct 13th, 2010.
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