Oak Apple Day

Restoration Day, more commonly known as Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day, was an English, Welsh and Irish public holiday, observed annually on 29 May, to commemorate the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in May 1660.[1] In some parts of England the day is still celebrated. It has also been known as Shick Shack Day, or Oak and Nettle Day.[2]

Oak Apple Day
An oak apple
Also called
  • Restoration Day
  • Royal Oak Day
  • Shick Shack Day
  • Oak and Nettle Day
  • Yak Bob Day
ObservancesWearing of sprigs of oak leaves and/or oak apples
Date29 May
Next time29 May 2023 (2023-05-29)
First time1661
Observance of 29th May Act 1660
Act of Parliament
Parliament of England
Long titleAn Act for a Perpetuall Anniversary Thanksgiveing on the nine and twentieth day of May.
Citation12 Cha 2 c 14
Other legislation
Repealed byAnniversary Days Observance Act 1859
Status: Repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted

In 1660, the English Parliament passed into law "An Act for a Perpetual Anniversary Thanksgiving on the Nine and Twentieth Day of May", declaring 29 May a public holiday "for keeping of a perpetual Anniversary, for a Day of Thanksgiving to God, for the great Blessing and Mercy he hath been graciously pleased to vouchsafe to the People of these Kingdoms, after their manifold and grievous Sufferings, in the Restoration of his Majesty..."[3]

The public holiday was abolished under the Anniversary Days Observance Act 1859, but the date retains some significance in local and institutional customs. It is, for example, still observed as Founder's Day by the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was founded by Charles II in 1681.[4][5]

In Ireland, Oak Apple Day was made a public holiday under the Act of Settlement 1662.[6][7]


Traditional celebrations to commemorate the event often entailed the wearing of oak apples (a type of plant gall, possibly known in some parts of the country as a "shick-shack"[8]) or sprigs of oak leaves, in reference to the occasion after the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, when Charles II escaped the Roundhead army by hiding in an oak tree near Boscobel House.[9] Anyone who failed to wear a sprig of oak risked being pelted with bird's eggs or thrashed with nettles.[10] In Sussex, those not wearing oak were liable to be pinched, giving rise to the unofficial name of "Pinch-bum Day"; similarly it was known as "Bumping Day" in Essex.[11]

In Upton Grey, Hampshire, after the church bells had been rung at 6 am the bell-ringers used to place a large branch of oak over the church porch, and another over the lychgate. Smaller branches were positioned in the gateway of every house to ensure good luck for the rest of the year.[12]

Modern events

Events still take place at Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire, Marsh Gibbon in Buckinghamshire, Great Wishford in Wiltshire (when villagers gather wood in Grovely Wood), Aston-on-Clun in Shropshire and Membury in Devon. The day has been marked in the past by re-enactment activities at Moseley Old Hall, West Midlands, one of the houses where Charles II hid in 1651.

At Fownhope in Herefordshire the Heart of Oak Society organise an annual event, where members of the society gather at the local pub and march through the village holding flower and oak leaf decorated sticks, whilst following the society banner and a brass band. The march goes first to the church for a service, and then to houses who host refreshments. The Heart of Oak Society was previously a friendly society, but had to reform in 1989 to keep the tradition going. Although Oak Apple Day celebrations have decreased in popularity and knowledge, Fownhope has managed to keep the event going, increasing in popularity and turn-out every year.[13]

At All Saints' Church, Northampton, a statue of Charles II is garlanded with oak leaves at noon every Oak Apple Day, followed by a celebration of the Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer.[14][15]

Oak Apple Day is also celebrated in the Cornish village of St Neot.[14] The vicar leads a procession through the village, he is followed by the Tower Captain holding the Oak bough. A large number of the villagers follow walking to the Church. A story of the history of the event is told and then the vicar blesses the branch. The Tower Captain throws the old branch down from the top of the tower and a new one is hauled to the top. Everyone is then invited to the vicarage gardens for refreshments and a barbecue. Up to 12 noon villagers wear a sprig of "red" (new) oak and in the afternoon wear a sprig of "Boys Love" (Artemisia abrotanum); tradition dictates that the punishment for not doing this results in being stung by nettles.

In 2021, Oak Apple Day was celebrated within sight of Charles II's former home of Windsor Castle at Eton Wick.[16]

See also

  • Push penny
  • Saint George's Day in England



  1. Chambers 1879, pp. 693–694.
  2. Hole 1978, pp. 114–115.
  3. Browning 1995, p. 54; House of Commons Journal 1802, pp. 49–50.
  4. Drake-Carnell 1938, p. 73.
  5. "Old Soldiers on Parade to Honour Royal Founder". The Times. London. 7 June 2012. p. 20.
  6. McNally, Frank. "Out of his tree – Frank McNally on Royal Oak Day and the pub name it inspired". The Irish Times.
  7. Harris, Tim (26 January 2006). Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms, 1660-1685. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141926742 via Google Books.
  8. "shick-shack". OED Online. Oxford University Press. March 2021. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  9. Timms, Elizabeth Jane (15 April 2016). "What is Oak Apple Day?". Royal Central. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  10. Hole 1978, pp. 114–115; Vickery 2010, pp. 165–166.
  11. Watts 2007, p. 331.
  12. "Hampshire Treasures, Vol. 2 (Basingstoke and Deane): Upton Grey". Hampshire County Council. 29 October 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  13. "Heart of Oak - Fownhope Village". sites.google.com. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  14. Vickery 2010, p. 166.
  15. "Restoration of the Monarchy". All Saints' Church Northampton. 29 May 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  16. "Eton Wick Events". Eton Wick Village Association. 25 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.


  • Browning, Andrew (1995). English Historical Documents. Volume 6: 1660–1714 (2nd ed.). Abingdon-on-Thames, England: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-14371-4.
  • Chambers, Robert (1879). The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers.
  • Drake-Carnell, F. J. (1938). Old English Customs and Ceremonies. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  • Hole, Christina (1978). A Dictionary of British Folk Customs. London: Paladin Granada. ISBN 978-0-586-08293-5.
  • House of Commons Journal. Volume 8: 30 May 1660. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. 1802. Retrieved 3 November 2017 via British History Online.
  • Vickery, Roy (2010). Garlands, Conkers and Mother-Die: British and Irish Plant-Lore. London: Continuum. ISBN 978-1-4411-0195-2.
  • Watts, D. C. (2007). Dictionary of Plant Lore. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-080-54602-5.
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