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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

King Charles II

One of the outstanding royal visits to Dover came on 25 May  1660 when King Charles II landed here, on his way to London to  secure the throne after the restoration of the Monarchy. He had been in exile in France and the Netherlands since his defeat by  Cromwell’s Parliamentary forces at the Battle of Worcester in  1651. With the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 the title of  Lord Protector passed to Cromwell’s son, Richard. Failing to  emulate his father’s iron grip he surrendered the office a year  later and Parliament invited the King to return.    Charles was greeted by a tumultuous welcome from the vast  crowds gathered on the beach and a salute was fired from the  guns of the Castle. This acclamation must have, in some part,  been due to a feeling of relief at the prospect of having once  more a King and settled government after the turmoil of the  Civil War. The King must have been greatly moved by the  welcome he received, as letters which he wrote afterwards  show. The diarist Samuel Pepys was in the King’s entourage and  described the event, and an extract from the Dover Corporation  Records gives some further details of this historic scene: Memorandum. - That the 25th May, 1660, the King arrived in  Dover Roads from Holland with twenty sail of His Majesty’s  great ships and frigates, the Right Hon. Edward Lord Montague  being General, and landed the same day being attended by His  Excellency the Lord General Monck who first met His Majesty  upon the bridge let into the sea for His Majesty’s more safe and convenient landing, and at His Majesty’s coming from the  bridge, the Mayor of this Town, Thomas Broome, Esq., made a  speech to His Majesty upon his knees, and Mr. John Reading,  Minister of the Gospel, presented His Majesty with the Holy  Bible as a gift from this town, and Mr. Reading thereupon made  a speech likewise to His Majesty and His Gracious Majesty  laying his hand upon his breast , told Mr. Mayor nothing would  be more dear to him than the Bible. His Excellency the Lord  General was accompanied with the Earl of Winchelsea and a  great number of nobility and gentry of England and his life  guard all most richly accoutred.”  King Charles II was to keep magnificent Court at Dover Castle  ten years later, when , in 1670, a secret treaty was negotiated  with the French King Louis XIV. The signing took place under the cover of a State Visit by Charles’s sister Henrietta, Duchess of  Orleans, who had been at the heart of the negotiations. Charles  was so anxious to meet his sister, whom he had not seen for  nine years, that he arrived far to early at Dover. Then he  returned to London and embarked on a ship with the intention  of meeting her mid Channel, but the winds were unfavourable.  Instead he went to Dover by road and greeted the French fleet  from his royal barge. As the King was accompanied by a large  entourage of courtiers and as Henritetta had with her courtiers,  and members of her own household numbering 250, the  available accommodation was rather strained. However there  were ample balls, concerts, plays and other festivities sufficient  to camouflage the signing of a secret treaty during the King’s  two week stay at the Castle.
King Charles II. Charles II landing at Dover 1660. The King is greeted by the Mayor of Dover at the restoration of the Monarchy. HMS Triumph off Dover. King Charles II and the Duke of York on board c.1671/2