In America, Memorial Day is when we honor the brave men and women who died fighting to protect our country and our freedoms. While we take time at the end of May to remember the sacrifices of our fallen heroes, people in Georgian and Regency England marked the end of May with a celebration of the restoration of King Charles II. In 1660, Parliament decreed that May 29, King Charles II’s birthday, would be Oak Apple Day. The day’s name came from Charles having hid in an oak tree after the Battle of Worcester to escape being captured by the Parliamentary army.
People marked the day by ringing bells or holding bonfires, participating in special Oak Apple Day processions, wearing sprigs of oak, eating plum pudding and drinking beer. Statues of Charles II would be decorated with oak leaf garlands, while church spires might be hung with special oak boughs. In some parts of England there would be a Garland King who would parade through the town. Although Oak Apple Day ceased to be an official holiday in 1859, some parts of England, including the City of Worcester, continue to celebrate the day.
Another institution which still recognizes the day is the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, which was founded by Charles II as a home for aged and disabled soldiers. In the past, the pensioner soldiers enjoyed a special plum pudding to mark the occasion. Today, in addition to a visit from a member of the royal family, the pensioner soldiers continue to raise a glass of beer to the king who thought to remember them and their service to the crown. So this Memorial Day, while you enjoy your beer and celebrations, don’t forget to take time to honor the soldiers who gave everything for their country.
A lifelong history buff, award winning author Georgie Lee hasn’t given up hope that she will one day inherit a title and a manor house. Until then, she fulfills her dreams of lords, ladies and a season in London through her stories. When not writing, she can be found reading non-fiction history or watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit http://www.georgie-lee.com to learn more about Georgie and her upcoming August release, Miss Marianne’s Disgrace.
Georgie will be leading a workshop at the 2017 California Dreamin’ Conference on Pain Relief and Anesthesia from Ancient Times to the Victorian Age