- By Rumeana Jahangir & PA Media
- BBC news
The prayer book of a priest who helped King Charles II escape to France at the end of the English Civil Wars is to be auctioned off.
It belonged to Father John Huddleston, who also attended the monarch’s deathbed in 1685.
Regarding the book, auctioneer John Crane said it was “the first time in 40 years of being an auctioneer that I could use the word ‘unique'”.
The specimen has an estimated selling price of more than £2,000.
Born in Lancashire, Father Huddleston was a Roman Catholic monk who arranged for Charles II to escape in 1651, at the end of the English Civil Wars between royalists and their opponents.
With the Royalists defeated and England temporarily becoming a republic, Charles II sought safety in France.
“If it wasn’t for Father Huddleston organizing the escape of King Charles II, it could have changed the whole course of history,” Crane said.
After nine years in exile, Charles II returned to London on the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
Father Huddleston also helped the King convert to Catholicism on his deathbed in 1685.
Sir. Crane said: “To buy this item is to buy a piece of history – it could quite comfortably be assumed that this (book) was present at the death of King Charles.”
Traditionally known as a missal, the copy contains the priest’s signature and was bought for sixpence in a Liverpool bookshop in the late 1950s.
“The signature alone is probably worth £600 to £800, but the increase in value would be the fact that it is his personal book,” Mr Crane said.
Sir. Crane first saw the copy at a family home in Wirral and added: “Its association with King Charles and the friendship between him and Father Huddleston make it unique.”
He hopes a public body or museum will buy and display it to members of the public.
“This is not about money, it’s about trying to make sure it gets into safe hands and is kept for the benefit of the general public,” he said.
Father Huddleston’s missal is part of a limited-time auction, which closes on March 30.