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The parish of Donington was recorded in the Domesday book as "Donitone". Its origins are Saxon. The name derives from either Dunningtun (the farm of the Dunnings) or Dunnantun (the farm of Dunna). The manor was held by the Saxon earl Edwin and at the conquest it passed to Earl Roger de Montgomery, who probably founded the church between 1085 and 1094. The very close proximity of the two churches of Donington and Albrighton is probably due to the fact that at that time this was an isolated and somewhat lawless area. Donington was originally no more than scattered small hamlets around common land and the church was probably built at the edge of the parish for security, close to the main settlement of Albrighton and its church.


After the defeat of Charles's Royalist army at the hands of Cromwell's New Model Army, the King fled with Lord Derby, Lord Wilmot and other royalists, seeking shelter at the safe houses of White Ladies Priory and Boscobel House.The King was among those sheltered at Boscobel House, where he was disguised as a woodman by the owners of the property, Charles Giffard and the Pendrell family. Their initial attempt to escape to Wales was thwarted by Commonwealth troops, and the King returned to the house. He there met with William Carlis (or Careless), one of the last royalists to escape the battlefield. Carlis's rank is variously reported as Captain, Major and Colonel.

The tree standing on the site today is not the original Royal Oak, which is recorded to have been destroyed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by tourists who cut off branches and chunks as souvenirs. The present day tree is believed to be a two or three hundred-year old descendant of the original and is thus known as 'Son of Royal Oak'.

In 2000, Son of Royal Oak was badly injured during a violent storm and lost many branches. Another oak sapling was planted near the site of the original Royal Oak in 2001 by Prince Charles; it was grown from one of the Son's acorns and is thus a grandson of the Royal Oak. In commemoration of the tree's significance in British history a number of places and things have been named after the Royal Oak. The Royal Oak is the third most common pub name in Britain.

Son of the Royal Oak Tree

Boscobel House and the Royal Oak and nearby Whiteladies Priory are now cared for by English Heritage and guided tours are available on most days.

Donington-with-Boscobel is not to be confused with Donnington near Telford.

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