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Oak Apple Day commemorations in Northampton

Published: Wednesday, 27 May 2020

A special thanksgiving ceremony will take place at All Saints’ Church on Friday 29 May at 12.30pm to commemorate Northampton’s Oak Apple Day.

This annual historic ceremony remembers the generosity of King Charles II, who donated over 1,000 tons of timber to reconstruct All Saints’ Church and halved the town’s taxes for seven years following the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675.

Father Oliver Coss, Rector of All Saints’ will give a live-streamed sermon, followed by a virtual performance from the All Saints’ Church Choir. The High Sheriff of Northamptonshire Paul Parsons, the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire James Saunders Watson and the Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Brian Sargeant, will also be involved in the ceremony.

Father Coss said: "Oak Apple Day is a moment of coherence for our town, and part of its history that we strive to teach our children. Beyond the national story of the recovery of the monarchy, it is also the story of Northampton's recovery after a great disaster, which brought such destruction. We mark it with special care as we seek a blessing upon our town for all that the future holds.”

Following the sermon and choir performance, the Mayor will place a crown of oak leaves on the statue of Charles II, which stands on the church’s portico.

Councillor Sargeant said: “Oak Apple Day is a historic tradition we have honoured for many hundreds of years and marks a significant moment in Northampton’s history. This year, for the first time, we will mark the service virtually, and it will be broadcast online, giving more people the opportunity to witness it.”

The unusual name of the ceremony is derived from the restoration of the monarchy, when Charles II came to the throne on 29 May 1660. The future King famously hid in an Oak tree, when he sought refuge from his roundhead enemies, following the 1651 battle of Worcester.

James Compton the then Earl of Northampton, spoke to Charles II and the bill to rebuild Northampton was passed, with Crown Commissioners sent to oversee the works and ensure that the benefactor of a new Northampton was never forgotten.

Once the new century had begun, the portico at All Saints’ was completed, and the Mayor John Agutter sought public subscription for the statue of King Charles II, which was wreathed on Oak Apple Day.

The ceremony will be broadcast from All Saints' Church YouTube channel  on Friday 29 May at 12.30pm. All parts of the ceremony observe social distancing.