On the 29th May each year a ceremony takes place in the centre of Northampton to mark Oak Apple Day, a custom with its roots in the restoration of the Crown when Charles 11 came to the throne in 1660.
Once it was a public holiday, sadly no more, in fact it was a public holiday until 1859,
why Oak Apple Day ? well the name is a reference to the time when Charles hid in an oak tree from his Roundhead pursuers following the battle of Worcester in 1651.
This incident also accounts for the many public houses in England with the name "The Royal Oak". The 29th May 1630 was also the date of the birth of the future King Charles 11.
Long ago people with Royalist sympathies would wear oak leaves or sprigs of oak with the apple still attached, this was also a sign of their approval of the restoration of the Monarchy.
Others that perhaps did nor share this sentiment and failed to display Oak leaves upon their doors would have a wreaths of stinging nettles placed upon their doorsteps.
The ceremony in Northampton is attended by various dignitaries and sees a wreath of Oak leaves placed around the neck of the statue of Charles 11 that sits on the portico of All Saints Church, unfortunately I was not in the town yesterday so was unable to take any pictures.
Outside of Northamptonshire this day is also marked in the counties of Worstershire, Wiltshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire and also in London.
The picture is of the statue of Charles with his Oak wreath from a previous ceremony.
Someone posted a question on FB recently asking for examples of local history that would be of interest to a group of Scouts that they intended to show round the centre of Northampton.
The number of replies was both surprising and for me informative, as I learned something about my own towns history which I was up to that point unaware of, every day is a school day as they say.
Right in the centre of the town is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and one of the posts on FB made reference to this particular building, specifically that there is damage from musket balls near one of the entrances that occurred when Royalist soldiers were pursued by Parliamentarian troops who fired at their fleeing opposition who were seeking sanctuary in the church.
Intrigued I visited the church today to take a look for myself, the church is a beautiful building but sadly the surrounding grounds are very neglected, which disappointed me although sadly I was not that surprised.
Anyway the church has a fascinating history and here are some pictures I took, including some which may be the damage done by those musket balls so long ago.
I wonder what was was the fate of those Cavaliers ? something for me to research further, I hope you like the pictures.
As the sun is shining this morning and the trees are green, I thought I'd share this poem by John Clare which reminded me how words can move and inspire, especially in the dark times we seem to live in, enjoy.
All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal: and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There's nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal it its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.