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11th May 2014: Oak Apple Day

By tradition, Oak Apple Day was the day on which the Souldern Friendly Society, known locally as The Souldern Club, held its Annual General Meeting. The club was founded in 1816 to give financial help to men who were prevented by sickness from working to support their families. On Oak Apple Day members of the club, wearing oak apples or oak leaves in their caps, marched from the school to the church for a thanksgiving service. They then returned to the school for a feast. Entertainment for the villagers was provided until late at night by a fair on the village green, almost opposite today’s Secret Garden.

With the coming of the Welfare State the need for the club waned and the society was wound up in 1935. Following the planting of Nancy Bowles Wood in 1986, village picnics were held there from time to time and the present management group likes to celebrate this event bi-annually, in spring.

Further information about The Souldern Club can be found in Robert Hitchman’s three ‘Journey from the Turnpike’ booklets (sadly now out of print), and in Ann Prescott’s more recent book, ‘Souldern our village in Oxfordshire’. Romney Summers, Chairman of Nancy Bowles Wood Management Group



SUNDAY, 11th MAY 2014

You are warmly invited to this historic village event, starting at 2.00pm in Nancy Bowles Wood (at the top of the Bridleway from the bottom of Foxhill Lane). Please bring a picnic although refreshments will be available. There will be organised games for adults and children.

Nancy Bowles wood is a wonderful village amenity and is there to be enjoyed by all so please do come along.

Report on Oak Apple Day 2014 The morning of May 11th 2014 dawned and our hearts sank as we saw the grey skies and the wind, gathering pace.

Relentless, we decided to carry on and a trusty group of us, wood group members and volunteers worked from 10am for two hours and set the scene for our Oak Apple Day, with Skittles, Aunt Sally, Toss the Beanbag, Woodland Quizzes and a large Refreshment tent together with shelters in case of, horror of horrors, rain.

The rain held off and at 2pm families began to trickle up to the wood.

By 3pm there were about 50 people, not as many children as in the past, which was unfortunate, but still a healthy turnout.

The sandwiches and the cakes disappeared and old and young took part in the games and quizzes.

All in all, in the end it was a lovely fun day, full of community spirit and even the sun showed its face from time to time.

Well done and many thanks to all the helpers. We couldn’t have done it without you.