Ancient ‘Oak Apple Day’ ceremony to take place in Northampton town centre

Drummers at Oak Apple Day

An ancient ceremony of thanksgiving will take place at All Saints' Church on Monday, 29 May to commemorate Northampton's Oak Apple Day.

This annual ceremony, organised by Northampton Town Council and the Lord Lieutenancy, is unique to Northampton and 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.

The Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Stephen Hibbert said: "Oak Apple Day is a historic event which we have honoured for many hundreds of years and marks a significant moment in Northampton's history. We believe it is important to keep these traditions alive. Everyone is welcome to attend and be a part of this unique ceremony."

The ceremony will begin at 11:30am, when a Civic Procession will enter All Saints' Church for a thanks giving service led by Father Oliver Coss, to which the public are invited. Then shortly after midday, The Company of Pikemen and Musketeers, who are a ceremonial unit of the Honourable Artillery Company dressed in 17th century uniform, will parade from the Judges' Lodgings on St Giles' Square, down George Row and onto All Saints' Church piazza proceeded by A Company LNR, Army Cadet Force, Corps of Drums overseen by Lt Col Robert Blomfield of The Royal Anglian Regiment.

The Mayor will place a wreath of oak leaves on the statue of Charles II, which stands on the church's portico followed by a drum and musket fire ceremonial performance which will be observed by His Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, Mr James Saunders Watson.

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 Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, said: "I am delighted that Northampton continues to celebrate this momentous occasion, particularly in this coronation year of King Charles III. I am also delighted to welcome The Company of Pikeman and Musketeers, who have agreed to parade on this special day."

Posted: Tue, 23 May 2023 11:00 by NTC News

Tags: Civic, News