Royal Oak Day

Today is of course the May Bank Holiday, but previously, it was celebrated as Oak Apple Day or simply Royal Oak Day, to commemorate the restoration of the English monarchy in May 1660. Appropriately celebrated on the birthday of King Charles II (the founder of the Household Cavalry, who had been born on May 29th 1630), Parliament declared it a national holiday “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”.

Traditionally,  celebrations to commemorate the event often entailed the wearing of oak apples  or sprigs of oak leaves, in reference to the occasion after the  Battle of Worcester during the English Civil War in September 1651, when the then Prince Charles  escaped the Roundhead  army by hiding in the boughes of an oak tree near Boscobel House, Shropshire.  Anyone who failed to wear a sprig of oak risked being pelted with bird’s eggs or thrashed with nettles.

Although the holiday was formally abolished by the Anniversary Days Observance Accordance of 1859, it is still acknowledged in certain parts of the country, and the date is accorded some significance in local or institutional customs. It is, for instance, kept as Founder’s Day at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, which was founded by Charles II in 1681.

Image copyright: National Gallery

Household Cavalry Regimental Associations Battlefield Tour 2017

Ypres Salient, 1914 and 1917

Under the brilliant guidance of our very own Curator, Pete Storer, the Household Cavalry Regimental Associations spent three packed days in Ypres Salient learning about not only the lost lives of the brave, but little known, Household Battalion, but about all those who fought valiantly in the Salient one hundred years ago.

Since being razed to the ground during the Great War, the beautiful town of Ypres has risen from the ashes and been rebuilt stone by stone. Since 1928, at the  Menin Gate   at 20:00hrs every evening, the Last Post, traditional final salute to the fallen, has been played by buglers in honour of the memory of the soldiers of the former British Empire and its allies, who died in the Ypres Salient during the First World War.

Through seeing this ceremony, the area’s lovingly maintained cemeteries and painstakingly preserved trenches, as well as an incredible number of names recognising unknown graves, the full impact of the Great War truly hits home.

On behalf of the Household Cavalry Museum, the Regimental Associations and the entire Regiment, we thank the people of Belgium for their moving nightly vigil over the Menin Gate, their guardianship of these cemeteries and their work in striving towards being a beacon of hope for all our futures.

          

 

We highly recommend a visit to Ypres Salient. So to help you on your way, here is our itinerary and and recommended places for you to visit on your next trip:

 

The  Menin Gate  (Last Post, at  20:00hrs nightly)

Tyne Cot cemetery

Passchendaele Museum, Zonnebeke Chateau and trenches

Langemarcke-Poelcappelle and German Cemetery

Household Cavalry Memorial, Zandvoorde

Canadian Memorial on Hill 62

Hooge Crater Cemetery and the Menin Road

Zillebeke Church and the “Aristocrat’s Graveyard”

Hill 60  preserved trenches, bunkers and “The Caterpillar” crater

Ypres town extension cemetery

Walking the ramparts at Ypres to the Ramparts cemetery. More information on military  engineer and fortifications architect Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban, Seigneur de Vauban and later Marquis de Vauban (1633-1707) can be found here.

St Georges Church, Ypres