'Charles I coin' defaced after execution found in Shropshire field

Metal detectorist claims badly-damaged King Charles I silver coin that he has found in Shropshire field was defaced by puritan after monarch was beheaded

  • Silver coin was found by metal detectorist Chris Langston, 47, in Shropshire
  • If authentic, the coin would have been struck between years of 1625 and 1649
  • Mr Langston believes Charles’s image could have been defaced by coin’s owner 

A metal detectorist claims a heavily damaged silver coin he found once bore the head of King Charles I – but the depiction was scraped off after his execution.

The silver coin, which if authentic would have been struck during Charles’s reign from 1625 and 1649, may have depicted a side-on profile of the King.

But Chris Langston, 47, who found the coin in a freshly-ploughed field in Shropshire, believes the image could have been defaced by an ardent Parliamentarian after Charles was beheaded in 1649. 

Around the edges of the coin, what may be a letter ‘C’ – the beginning of CAROLVS D. REX, Charles’s name in Latin – can be seen. 

Also visible is what may be a cross that features on the top of Charles’s crown in an undamaged version of a coin from that era.   

What could be the arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland can still be seen on the reverse side. 

A metal detectorist claims a heavily damaged old coin he found once bore the head of King Charles I – but the depiction was scraped off after his execution. Above: An undamaged coin is seen alongside metal detectorist Chris Langston’s discovery

The silver coin, which if authentic would have been struck during Charles’s reign from 1625 and 1649, may have depicted a side-on profile of the King. Above: The other side of the coin

Mr Langston, a father-of-three, said: ‘It was right on the top of the soil, covered in mud. When I found it I was really flummoxed because because I know the head side wasn’t right.

‘I couldn’t identify it and it looked like there was something missing. There were no signs other than the letter “c”.

‘I asked a fellow metal detectorist and he explained that it was known for King Charles I’s face to be defaced by parliamentarians – and this has definitely been vigorously defaced.’

Charles dissolved Parliament three times between 1625 and 1629, instead resolving to rule alone. The move made him hugely unpopular with parliamentarians. 

Mr Langston added: ‘There were a lot of royalists who were known for attaching his coins to a string and wearing it around their necks as a way of keeping him close to their hearts, and this is the reverse of that.

‘Half of the country hated him and this coin would have belonged to a puritan who wanted the money but didn’t want to carry him around in their pocket.

‘It’s also possible the coin was defaced after he was beheaded because you could have got in a lot of trouble for having it.’

Charles’s defiance in the face of Parliament led to the English Civil War.   

The MP Oliver Cromwell became a leading commander of the Parliamentarians, who were known as the Roundheads. 

His New Model Army defeated Charles in 1648.

The King was executed for high treason in January 1649 and the monarchy was abolished, with a republic established in its place.

Charles I was executed for high treason in January 1649 and the monarchy was abolished, with a republic established in its place

The monarchy was restored in 1660, with Charles’ son Charles II taking the throne.

Charles’s body was found in 1813 when workmen building a tomb for King George III in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle accidentally made an opening in the vault containing the bodies of King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour.

Inside they saw a third coffin which was covered with a black velvet pall. The name on the lid read ‘King Charles’ and the year of his death 1649.

Before the find, it wasn’t known where exactly his body was buried and it was later suggested his son had re-interred his father at Westminster Abbey.

WHO WAS KING CHARLES I AND WHY WAS HE EXECUTED?

King Charles I was born in Fife, Scotland, in 1600 and became king in 1625 following the death of his older brother Henry.

The new monarch favoured a High Anglican form of worship and his wife, Henrietta Maria of France, was Catholic. 

After his succession, Charles quarrelled with Parliament, which sought to curb his royal prerogative. 

The King believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, particularly the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical monarch. 

He went on to dissolve parliament three times from 1625 to 1629 and decided to rule alone.

This meant the king was left to try and raise funds by non-parliamentary means, which made him unpopular with the British public. He also tried to force a new prayer book on the country.

King Charles visited Bramsill House in 1630, while under pressure from his subjects following his repeated clashes with Parliament. 

King Charles I (with his wife Queen Henrietta Maria) was born in Fife, Scotland, and became king when he was 24 years old 

The King, on January 4, 1642, tried personally to arrest five MPs for treason. he entered the Commons accompanied by armed men and the Speaker of the time, William Lenthal, vacated the chair for the monarch. 

However, he refused to give up the MPs and famously remarked ‘May it please your majesty, I have neither eyes to see not tongue to speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here’.

The MPs fled, Charles declared ‘all my birds have flown’, and he retreated. He was to be the last monarch to ever enter the chamber.    

The result, was the outbreak of civil war after more than 150 years.  

In 1646 the Royalists were defeated and Charles subsequently surrendered to the Scots and he later escaped to the Isle of Wight a year later.

Charles was put on trial for treason by a number of MPs, including Parliamentarian general Oliver Cromwell.

He was convicted and later executed outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall in London.   

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