Royal Oak Day: Success to the King

Royal Oak Day: Success to the King

Oil on canvas. 1862. Private collection.

29 May is 'Royal Oak Day' or 'Oak Apple Day'. The date celebrates the escape and restoration of King Charles II. After his exile, the king entered London on 29 May 1660, his birthday.

The day was made a public holiday in 1664 but was expunged from the church calendar in 1859. Bussey's picture could be interpreted as an attempt to keep the celebration alive.

After the Battle of Worcester, Charles II famously hid in an oak tree in the woods of Boscobel House. Royal Oak Day was celebrated by placing oak leaves in the hat and branches over the door. These appear in the picture which is held in a wooden frame carved with oak leaves.

Glasses are raised for a toast outside 'The Kings Arms'. The setting is probably Nottingham. Above the door is the coat of arms of Charles II. Bussey has used the Scottish version of the Stuart arms, probably in error. The people in the picture have not been identified.

Here is a detail showing the animals.

30 x 25 inches.