HE was the King of England who became stuck in a window at Carisbrook Castle while attempting to make good his escape.

Charles I, defeated in the Civil War, surrendered in May 1646 and was held under house arrest at Hampton Court Palace while Parliament debated what to do with him.

In the autumn he got away from his jailers but there was nowhere in England he would be safe for long.

He made it to Titchfield where there were Royalist supporters and opened negotiations with the Governor of the Isle of Wight Colonel Robert Hammond

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Though officially a Parliamentarian, Hammond was the brother of Charles’ chaplain and was thought to be a secret Royalist who would help Charles to get away to France.

Charles reached Carisbrooke Castle on November 22, but he had misjudged Hammond. Rather than helping him to escape, Hammond informed Parliament immediately.

He was housed with some ceremony, attended by members of his own household and an enclosure on the east side of the castle was converted into a bowling green for him.

Oddly, Charles was allowed considerable freedom, driving about the island in his coaNew Forest Post: ch.

A few weeks after his arrival he was even able to sign a secret agreement with a Scottish delegation.

The Parliamentary Commissioners also attended Charles at the end of December to try and agree a compromise, but he refused.

A sympathetic officer in Newport attempted an uprising but the plan was discovered. Tighter security was imposed, his main helpers sent away and he was confined to the Castle.

Despite the stricter conditions, he was still able to smuggle out secret messages via his chambermaid Mary.

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On the night of March 20, 1648, horses were ready to take him to a boat to the mainland; he would be escorted to Queensborough in Suffolk where a ship would be waiting to take him to France.

All Charles had to do was climb out of his bed-chamber window, lower himself down and make his way to the outside wall where his page, Henry Firebrace, would help him over.

But there was one tiny, almost comical flaw in his plan.

Charles told Firebrace that he had checked that his head would fit between the window bars, and that “he was sure, where that would pass, the body would follow”.

But “His Majesty … too late, found himself mistaken, he sticking fast between his breast and shoulders, and not able to get forwards or backwards … Whilst he stuck, I heard him groane, but could not come to help him”.

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Charles only just managed to get back inside.

Undeterred Charles attempted another escape two months later. This time the bars of his window were loosened in advance with nitric acid and his guards were bribed. Two of them betrayed him.

Charles saw that extra sentries had been posted below his window and decided to abandon the attempt.

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Under the terms of that secret agreement with the Scots Charles had promised that, if a Scottish army would help him regain the throne, he would establish Presbyterianism in England.

The resulting Scottish invasion, along with simultaneous Royalist uprisings in England and Wales, led to the brief Second Civil War.

The Scots and other Royalists were defeated by Oliver Cromwell in August 1648.

On September 6, 1648, Charles was released on parole from his confinement at Carisbrooke Castle and lodged in Newport with the approval of Parliament to join further negotiations.

The negotiations failed and Charles was taken by boat to Hurst Castle on December 1 and held in the keep with conditions a lot less comfortable than Carisbrooke.

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The position of Hurst Castle made escape virtually impossible.

On the night of December 17, he was awakened by the sound of the drawbridge being let down to admit Colonel Harrison and was taken from Hurst Castle to London two days later. Here he was tried and found guilty of treason before being executed at the Banqueting House on January 30, 1649.

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Jack Wilson is a tour guide with SeeSouthampton.co.uk .