A location which holds great historical value dating back over 200 years.
Oak Apple Day was officially celebrated in Tonge for about 200 years, unofficially until as recently as after the Second World War, and was a significant date in the calendar for communities around the country. It fell upon the 29th of May each year and was a public holiday celebrating the restoration of King Charles II to the throne. Following his army’s defeat by Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, King Charles hid in the boughs of an Oak Apple tree for an entire day to escape the Roundhead army. The tree was just one part of his dramatic escape to France, where he hid for 9 years until the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658. In the two years after Cromwell’s death, there as a great deal of political confusion, and this resulted in the restoration of of the British monarchy in 1660. Oak Apple Day began being celebrated in 1664, when the King’s birthday became a public holiday to mark the importance of the Restoration. Although it’s no longer celebrated today, many pubs are still named The Royal Oak after the tree that allowed him to escape.
Celebrations in Bolton occurred in Tonge, which in the 1600s was a separate hamlet, not the suburb of Bolton it is today. Tonge received many Huguenot settlers who fled France in the late 17th century after Kind Charles II offered sanctuary to those being persecuted by General Franco. With them, they brought skills in weaving, engraving, hat making, bleaching, dyeing and colouring, and also a loyalty to the king that offered them an escape route. It’s not surprising therefore that Tonge became a hub of activity around Oak Apple day, when an annual fair was held for the week around it. HallithWood
By the 1800s, the fair no longer took place, and the The Park View Inn (otherwise known as the Dug un Kennel) on Tonge Fold Road became the regular location. The day was abolished by parliament in 1859 as parliament were cracking down on public holidays that had become associated with heavy drinking, but it was still celebrated in many parts of the country after this date. A statue of King Charles would be hung in an oak tree, participants would find it, and it would then be taken inside to be kissed by locals and regulars. Those who had come from further afield could buy the right to kiss the statue with a gallon of beer. The fable goes that the oldest participant would then keep the statue until the following year. The statue can now be viewed in Bolton Museum after its discovery in the attic of the pub in 1959, which had lost its license 10 years previously and become a private house.