A mole that changed the royal history

by Valery Danko
11 March 2021


On the crispy morning of the 8th of March 1702 William III stepped out of the red-bricked Fountain Court of the Hampton Court Palace. He was an elegant man with distinctive face features – a crooked nose on a soft pale face framed by gentle curls. His hazel eyes looked even darker under the shade of a fashionable tricorn hat.

The monarch passed through the avenue of elegant evergreen yew trees recently planted by his gardener Daniel Marot. At the end of the alley he reached his favourite golden-haired horse Sorrel cheerfully neighing at him.

Sorrel was confiscated from Sir John Fenwick, one of the Jacobites who had conspired against William II and since then he never parted with his soft-tempered amber horse.


He saddled Sorrel and rode through the vast parakeet-green land of his grand palace.


In winter he usually enjoyed the Caribbean atmosphere of the Exotics garden created by his wife Mary Stuart where the citrus scent of thousand orange trees symbolising William III’s House of orange dynasty was rivalling fresh aroma of blossoming aloes and pistachio-green agaves. 

He loved this garden, but today he finally wanted to inhale the fresh soil scent of the early countryside spring.

Sorrel was also overwhelmed with spring and galloped through the fields until it suddenly stumbled on a mole’s burrow and threw the rider.


A mole who excavated the soil that very day in that very place changed the course of history and unintentionally murdered the king.

William died two weeks later from complications of a broken collarbone, that got infected, turned into osteomyelitis (a bone infection) and caused pneumonia.

William's death meant that he would remain the only member of the Dutch House of Orange to reign over England. 



Where to see William III  statue with Sorrel and the molehill?


St James’s Square


Where to see his palace?

Fountain Court at Hampton Court Palace