White Ladies Priory ( often Whiteladies Priory ) is in Shropshire and is famous as the first resting place on the journey of Charles II of England after the Battle of Worcester during his escape to France in 1651. The name ' White Ladies ' refers to the nuns who lived there and who wore white ( undyed ) habits.
The priory was built in the grounds of a medieval nunnery. In 1535, White Ladies Priory was valued at having an annual income of less than £17 and, owing to an Act of Parliament in 1536, it was closed as its annual value was less than the £200 needed to keep the priory open.
White Ladies was not occupied by its owners, The Gifford Family in 1651, but was run by housekeepers and servants. Among the tenants of the estate were five brothers called Penderell. ( There had been six but one had been killed at the Battle of Edgehill. ) They were woodmen and farm servants, living at different places in the neighbourhood, and looked after some of the houses such as White Ladies Priory and Boscobel House, which is about a mile away.
Charles Gifford escorted the King to White Ladies Priory early on 4 September, 1651, after riding throughout the night after the battle the previous day. They were admitted by a servant of the house named George Penderell. He sent for Richard Penderell, who lived in a farm house nearby, and for their older brother William, who was at Boscobel. They took the King into an inner room, and disguised him. After failing to cross the River Severn, Charles returned to the estate on 6 September and spent the day in the grounds of Boscobel House hiding in the famous Royal Oak.
Whilst the large timber-framed nunnery has now gone, the remains of the nunneries medieval church and the nineteenth century boundary wall of the small graveyard still remain.
In legend, the priory is said to be where Queen Guinevere retired to after the death of King Arthur.
Ghostly chants of prayer and song have still been heard even to this day around the ruins.