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Answer 29. King Charles I was being taken to Whitehall to be beheaded.


IMG_4733 Banquet Hse

A wooden scaffold had been erected outside the Banqueting House. The site is marked by the black memorial on the wall, lower left in both pictures. An enormous crowd was held back by Parliamentary soldiers fearing a rescue attempt as the King was led out from a first-floor window (since bricked in) just after 2 p.m.

Charles made a rambling speech on the scaffold. He was interrupted by somebody thoughtlessly reaching down to test the sharpness of the axe while he talked:

‘I never did begin the war with the two Houses of Parliament, and I call God to witness (to whom I must shortly make an account) that I never did intend to encroach upon their privileges.’

IMG_4734 Banquet Hse

The crowd roared with disapproval as Charles was beheaded. Few people wanted him dead. The onlookers surged forward as soon as it was over and dipped their handkerchiefs in the King’s blood for luck.

One of the handful of eyewitnesses who did approve of the King’s execution was only 15 at the time. ‘Were I to preach upon him,’ he later wrote in his diary, ‘my text should be: “The memory of the wicked shall rot”.’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 30. Who was the 15-year-old diarist happy to watch King Charles I die?

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