Happy Oak Apple Day! Oh, you don’t know what that is? Not to worry, we will explain all!

Oak Apple Day (also known as Restoration Day) is a now long forgotten holiday in the British calendar, it has nothing to do with apples, despite what the name suggests, and everything to do with the rule of Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration of the monarchy.

 What do oak trees have to with the monarchy you ask? Well, let us tell you about the English Civil War and the Restoration.

A brief look at the English Civil War

The English Civil War was not just one war – it was a series of civil wars and political issues between the monarchy and their supporters, known as the Royalists) and parliament and their supporters (known as Parliamentarians). It also ended up becoming part of a wider battle known as the War of the Three Kingdoms, which saw issues between England, Scotland and Ireland.

The First English Civil War was fought over the correct balance of power between Parliament and Charles I. It ended in the summer of 1646, with the king in custody.

The Second English Civil War ended in 1648, again with a Royalist defeat, only this time, the king was executed.

Charles I’s execution and Oliver Cromwell being named Protector and setting up a Republic didn’t see an end to the fighting. The Scottish recognised Charles II as the rightful king, which as you can imagine continued to cause issues between the kingdoms. Charles II led a Scottish force to invade England and at the Battle of Worcester, he had to escape by hiding in a tree before fleeing the country.

After Oliver Cromwell’s death, people were pretty fed up with living like Puritans and in the general election, several royalists were elected to parliament which in turn led to the Restoration of the monarchy. Charles II promised to rule in harmony with parliament and was proclaimed king in 1660 – sprigs of oak tree were worn on his coronation day and on the anniversary every year to celebrate the monarchy’s restoration. It remained a public holiday until 1859 but people do still celebrate across the UK, most notably in the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Cornwall and Buckinghamshire.

Oak Apple Day will take place on 29th May 2024 – so make sure to wish those around you a happy Oak Apple Day!

From 29th May 1660 until his death, Charles II was known as the merry monarch because he abolished much of the puritanism brought in by Cromwell and enjoyed a party or two. Though history remembers him fondly as being a rather jolly king, he was also very vengeful, especially against those who had signed his father’s death warrant.

104 people signed the original warrant and by the time Charles II had come to power, 24 of them had already died, but that didn’t mean that they were safe from his royal kill list. Oliver Cromwell’s body was dug up, it was then hung, beheaded and thrown into a pit, while his head was stuck on a spike in Westminster, where it stayed for 30 years!

28 stood trial, 19 of which were sentenced to life in prison, while the others were hung, drawn and quartered for high treason. Some, like Thomas Harrison, went down fighting, he tried to punch his executioner mid execution! 21 of the people on the list left the country, some were captured and either killed or returned to England, many of those that escaped made their way to America where they were shielded by Puritan communities that had begun to thrive there, particularly in New England.

Find out more:

Reign of Charles I
Reign of Charles II
Oliver Cromwell
The English Civil War




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