Great Wishford’s Oak Apple Day re-born anew

Like many communities, Great Wishford was heavily affected by the pandemic. Its traditional Oak Apple Day celebrations were put on hold.

Finally, the village Oak Apple Club can celebrate the continuation of the ancient rights to collect fallen timber from the Earl of Pembroke’s Grovely Woods.

The rights are believed to date back to the 12th century and were enshrined in law in the 17th century. They are renewed each year on 29th May.

The day will begin with The Rough Band going around the village, making a real din at 5.30am to awaken the villagers to tell them it is time to walk to the woods and collect a traditional live oak bough ‘no thicker than a man’s forearm’ with which to decorate their houses.

Following breakfast in The Royal Oak, events move to Salisbury Cathedral where, at 10.30am, The Nitch Ladies will perform traditional dances before the villagers renew their rights by crying “Grovely, Grovely and all Grovely”, in front of the altar.

A parade to beat the bounds of the village follows at noon before the Oak Apple field in the village centre opens, with all-comers welcome, to begin the annual fête.

Children’s attractions will include swingboats, Punch and Judy and face painting. Hunger will be met by a soup-and-a-roll stall, BBQ and ice cream van.

A bar will sort out the thirsty.

Other activities include a performance from Bourne Valley Morris, a classic vehicle display, children’s races, a
wide variety of stalls and live music from Woodford Ukulele Band and Roy Shergold’s Daisy Chain.

Tom Brannan, club chairman, said: “It’s a delight to be able to re-launch Oak Apple Day at last. So many village traditions have been lost that it’s important to protect those that remain.

“All are welcome to join in the fun.”

One Comment

  1. Sam Chalmers Reply

    I was one of the six sword dancers’ on Oak Apple Day in 1955 , trained by Mr Pinnegar, a local dairy farmer.
    I remember Richard Moulding and Andrew Mundy. I think Richard was also a sword dancer.
    Miss Thomas ran the village school. I sat the eleven-plus exam with Richard’s sister, Christine, at the vicarage.
    The local vicar, Reverend Steele supervised.
    I had one term at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury, then my father was posted, so we left the village
    early in 1956. Happy Days.

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