NOT many people in adult life can say they hid up a tree with a king, but that’s just one of several claims to fame of William Careless, the Royalist cavalry officer who was among the most colourful figures of the English Civil War.

 In a gallant attempt to hold off Parliamentarian forces at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Careless led several charges down High Street and Sidbury, which allowed Charles II to flee the city.

The pair met up again the next day at Boscobel House in Shropshire, where Carless suggested to the king he hide in a giant oak tree in the grounds.

The subterfuge was successful and is celebrated every year by Oak Apple Day on May 29. 

After the war Careless and his family came to live in Hallow, near Worcester, where his wife died and was buried in the churchyard.

His remarkable life and times are to be the subject of a talk in Worcester Commandery on Thursday, August 15 by Birmingham based author Elaine Joyce entitled “The Hero of the Boscobel Oak Tree”. 

The event is being organised by the Battle of Worcester Society and chairman Richard Shaw said: “The actions of William Careless played a vital role in the king’s escape during the battle.

"Careless claimed to have seen the last man slain and it was only when he was sure Charles II had escaped that he left the battlefield.”

Careless originated from Brewood in Staffordshire, but knew the area around Boscobel House well.

He suggested to the king that the house was unsafe and recommended they hide in a large pollarded oak tree in the surrounding woodlands.

The king and Careless took some food and drink into the tree and were relieved when Parliamentarian soldiers searched the woodland intensively but failed to detect them.  

Charles, who was exhausted, slept in the tree for some of the time, only being prevented from falling out by Careless's support.

He spent the night hiding in one of Boscobel's priest holes, Careless in another. The following day Careless killed and butchered a sheep with his dagger and the mutton was afterwards cooked by the king himself.

However, being too well known locally, and not wishing to draw attention to the disguised Charles, Careless parted from the king later the same day.

Careless had been a cavalryman most of his life and fought for Charles’ father Charles I at Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644.

Following the Battle of Worcester he too fled to France and returned to England with Charles II in 1660. Careless was made a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber in 1666 and in the 1680s came to live at Hallow, where his wife died and is buried. Careless returned to London and died in 1689. 

The talk by Elaine Joyce, who has just published a book about William Careless called  “Nine Witnesses for the Colonel - King Charles I's Most Faithful Servant,” will start at 7pm on August 15.

Tickets are £7 for adults; £5 for Battle of Worcester Society members and £3 for students. They are obtainable from, website; the Commandery Shop; the Tourist Information Office at the Guildhall, Worcester; the Worcester Festival Box Office at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester, or on the door on the night.