s 1640 Charles I visits Hull - Hull Museums Collections

1640 Charles I visits Hull

Charles I at the Gates of Hull

In September 1640 Charles I (1625-1649) visited Hull, whilst on a journey from London to York. During this time Hull had become heavily fortified, with much ammunition stored there, because the King's relations with Scotland were deteriorating, and war seemed inevitable.

The decision to visit Hull

The decision to visit Hull was taken during the journey, leaving the Mayor of Hull, William Popple, only a few days to make arrangements. There was a determination to welcome the King properly and with ceremony. A foot platform was constructed at Beverley Gates, the entrance to Hull, for people to view the arrival of the monarch. A rich carpet was laid down and the leading citizens of the town were 'desired to be ready to receive and wait on His Majesty, in their best robes, habits and attires'.

In September 1640, Charles I accompanied by Lords, Knights and Gentry, was received at Beverley Gate by the Mayor, Recorder, Alderman and other leading citizens.
'Charles I at the Beverley Gate' panel, Hull Tapestry.
The Mayor, in scarlet robes, greeted Charles I with expressions of loyalty and with gifts. The keys of the town were presented, with a purse holding one hundred pieces of gold and several yards of quality ribbon. It is reputed that the ribbon was later tied in a knot upon the King's hat, which he called his 'Hull favour'.

The Recorder, Francis Thorpe, then delivered a long speech to the royal procession, with assurances of 'our most sincere loyalty', and with promises to protect the King 'against all your enemies, with the utmost of our lives and fortunes'.

Francis Thorpe later turned against the Royalists, and was a Commissioner at Charles' trial in 1649, which ordered the King's execution.

The King responds

Charles I responded to this warm reception with a shorter speech and declared it was his duty to live 'for the good of his people'. The procession then moved on, through the town, as the noise of bells, cannons and chants of 'God save the King' filled the air.

The King's Lodgings

The King lodged that night at the home of Sir John Lister, former Mayor of Hull, on High Street, probably on the site of what is now Wilberforce House Museum. 'A noble and magnificent entertainment' was provided in the Banqueting Room in honour of the special guest.

On the following day the royal party inspected the garrison of the town, and after dining, was escorted back to the gates, to continue their journey north, via Beverley.

As Charles' relations with Parliament grew steadily worse, Hull as a port and a fortress grew in importance to both sides. Parliament was able to appoint a governor, Sir John Hotham, with strict orders not to surrender the town to the King.
Charles I Demanding Entrance at the Beverley Gate, Hull,  April 23 1642


In April 1642, Charles I arrived at Beverley Gate, where he was refused entry. An ultimatum was issued, and ignored, to open up the gates to the King. The governor was declared guilty of high treason, but the royal party was forced to return to Beverley. The reception the King received in 1642 was so very different to the one staged just two years previously.

Most published references indicate that Charles I visited Hull in 1639, but new research by a prominent local historian in 2004 has highlighted that this date is wrong and the visit took place 30th September - 1st october 1640.