Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Oak Apple Day

Today, 29 May, is Oak Apple Day. In 1660 Parliament declared it a public holiday "as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King's return to his Government, he entering London that day". That king, of course, was Charles II.

People used to be mark the day by wearing oak leaves, to commemorate the way that the young Charles escaped after the Battle of Worcester by hiding in an oak tree near Boscobel House in Shropshire.

The day is still marked in an organised way in some places around the country, notably at Northampton and Aston on Clun in Shropshire. But, according to the Today progamme yesterday, popular celebration of Oak Apple Day died out a century ago.

Not so. I was discussing the day with the Dowager Lady Bonkers this afternoon and she recalled being sent from London to stay with relatives in Tollesbury in Essex during World War II.

On Oak Apple Day in 1941 or 1942 a boy, the son of a shepherd from out on the marshes, arrived at the village primary school wearing a spray of oak leaves and the headmaster remarked that he was pleased to see that someone still remembered the old custom.


deepestcheshiregwyn said...

Doug Pickford's excellent Cheshire: its magic and mystery (1994) features a photograph of pupils at Bollington Central School wearing their oak leaves in 1930. It was recorded that the 'penalty' for failure to wear was to be nettled by other pupils.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I am transcripting some Head Teacher's log books. In the one for Albury village, near Dorking, the Head notes on May 29th 1865: " a great many boys wore a piece of oak in their buttonholes".