John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester, poet, libertine and member of Charles II “Merry Gang” died on this day in 1680 aged just 33.
James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne as James I on the death of Elizabeth and was crowned in Westminster Abbey on this date in 1603, uniting the two kingdoms.
John Donne (pr. Dun)
English poet and rather handsome young man.
That hair! Those lips! And look, his collar’s untied at the neck… Naughty.
John Donne was a very sensual man, and a poet unafraid of sexuality - look no further than his elegy, ‘To His Mistress Going To Bed’ (“License my roving hands, and let them go/Behind, before, above, between, below.”)
He was melancholic, seemingly preoccupied with death… (see the dark shadows and brooding look on his face)… and sex (see the open shirt and pouting lips).
He fought in the Anglo-Spanish war, gained a prestigious diplomatic job, fell in love with and secretly married his boss’s daughter, was found out, fired, and thrown in jail. He then worked as a lawyer for years, to sustain his ever-growing family (12 births in 16 years, the last of which resulted in Anne’s death and sent Donne into deep mourning), and later in life became a priest, and a member of parliament.
What a man.
Slip ware dish commemorating Charles II famous escape from the Roundheads in 1651 By William Talor 1680-85
Estimated to be worth £45,000-60,000, it depicts the moment in the English Civil War when the 21 year old Charles II hid in a huge oak tree in Boscobel House, Shropshire to escape the attentions of marauding Roundheads. He had been soundly beaten the day before at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651 by Cromwell’s New Model Army and remained perched in the tree for several hours until the danger passed. With the Civil War effectively over, Charles gave up the struggle to regain the throne and escaped to mainland Europe where he lived until the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.
The tale of the Royal Oak gripped the public imagination and Pepys recorded in his diary that the King has related it to him personally. The dish was made by William Talor in the early 1680s and is only one of four dishes by the potter on this theme to have survived.
↳ 29 May 1660 AD ‘Oak Apple Day’ - Restoration of the monarchy in England. From Pepys diary “Parliament had ordered the 29th May, the King’s birthday, to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King’s return to his Government, he entering London that day.”
Oak Apple Day
Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day was a holiday celebrated in England on 29 May to commemorate the restoration of the English monarchy, in May 1660. In some parts of the country, the day was also known as Shick Shack Day, Oak and Nettle Day or Arbor Tree Day.
In 1660, Parliament declared 29 May a public holiday:
“Resolved, That a Bill be prepared 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, with Safety, to his People and Kingdoms: And that the Nine-and-twentieth Day of May, in every Year, being the Birth Day of his Sacred Majesty, and the Day of his Majesty’s Return to his Parliament, be yearly set apart for that Purpose…” , -Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660-1667
The public holiday, Oak Apple Day, was formally abolished in 1859, but the date retains some significance in local or institutional customs. It is, for example, kept as Founder’s Day in the Royal Hospital Chelsea (founded by Charles II in 1681). During the course of the day the statue of Charles II in Figure Court is partly shrouded in oak leaves, and all participants in the Parade and spectators wear sprigs of oak leaves to commemorate the King’s escape from forces after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The statue was re-gilded in 2002 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Traditional celebrations to commemorate the Oak Apple Day often entailed the wearing of oak apples (a type of plant gall, possibly known in some parts of the country as a shick-shack) or sprigs of oak leaves, in reference to the occasion after the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, when the future Charles II of England escaped the Roundhead army by hiding in an oak tree near Boscobel House. Anyone who failed to wear a sprig of oak risked being pelted with bird’s eggs or thrashed with nettles.
These ceremonies, which have now largely died out, are perhaps continuations of pre-Christian nature worship. The Garland King who rides through the streets of Castleton, Derbyshire, at the head of a procession, completely disguised in a garland of flowers, which is later affixed to a pinnacle on the parish church tower, can have little connection with the Restoration, even though he dresses in Stuart costume. He is perhaps a kind of Jack in the Green and the custom may have transferred from May Day when such celebrations were permitted again after having been banned by the Puritans.
Events still take place at Upton-upon-Severn, Northampton, Aston on Clun in Shropshire, Marsh Gibbon in Buckinghamshire, Great Wishford in Wiltshire when villagers gather wood in Grovely Wood, and Membury in Devon. The day is generally marked by re-enactment activities at Moseley Old Hall, one of the houses where Charles II hid in 1651.
At some Oxford and Cambridge halls a toast is still drunk to celebrate Oak Apple Day.
Happy ‘Oak Apple Day’ everyone!
Definitely Charles II. He’s my favourite monarch ever, not just Stuart. x
↳ 11 May 1625 AD - Henrietta Maria of France is married, by proxy, to King Charles I of England (the Duke of Buckingham stands in for the bridegroom).