The Royal Oak, Great Ayton

An early morning view of the Royal Oak in the village. As it’s a Sunday there is an unusual lack of cars. I’ll admit this photo today is a little contrived to connect with today’s useless piece of trivia.

Today is Royal Oak or Oak Apple Day when you are supposed to wear a sprig of oak leaves in your hat or buttonhole in celebration of the restoration of King Charles II after a decade or so of republicanism. The story goes that after the Battle of Worcester the future Charles II eluded capture by hiding in an oak tree. And if you don’t wear the oak leaves you run the risk of being taunted by young boys brandishing bunches of nettles which to trash you with.

On May 29th 1660 Charles II returned to London to officially take up the throne. The day was declared a public holiday and was celebrated by church bells, feasts and bonfires, along with the wearing of a sprig of oak leaves. But a century later, after the Jacobite Rebellion, the oak leaf had became a symbol of national division and the holiday was eventually revoked by Parliament in 1859. This was hugely unpopular with a day off having to be continued in many schools until the end of the century. A rhyme was sung by children:

Twenty Ninth of May
Royal Oak Day
If you don’t give us a holiday
We’ll all run away

The name Royal Oak is the third  most common pub name in England after that oak tree in the grounds of Boscobel House where the King hid.

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