One of Devon’s oldest family homes is resurrecting a 350-year-old tradition to celebrate its historic roots.
Every Easter the Fursdon estate in Cadbury, East Devon, opens its doors to the public for the summer season, but this year it is treating visitors to a special, themed opening as the family prepares to mark Oak Apple Day.
The former public holiday was established in the 17th century to commemorate Charles II’s restoration to the English throne and is associated with a number of quirky oak related customs.
Although the day is now celebrated in only a handful of villages and towns across the country, it has lived on in the memory of the Fursdon family, whose ancestors were staunch supporters of the royalist cause during the English civil war.
“My ancestor George Fursdon was killed in the Civil War and Cromwell’s troops followed his body home to Cadbury where they set up camp on Cadbury Castle for a period of time,” explained David Fursdon.
“As a result, the Restoration of the monarchy was a cause for celebration in the Fursdon family and now, when it has fallen out of fashion in most parts of the country, we wanted to encourage people to remember the day.”
Traditionally, people would mark the day by wearing sprigs of oak to show their support for the monarchy, whilst challenging others to display their own oak sprig or face one of a variety of humiliations – including a thrashing with nettles or pelting with eggs.
The estate has said that no thrashings, peltings or pinchings have been planned for this week’s event. Instead, visitors to the estate will have the opportunity to discuss the significance of the day with a local historian, as well as enjoy the house’s tea room, grounds and surrounding landscapes.
The Oak Day celebrations will take place between 2-5pm on Thursday.