The History of the Bishops Wood Scarecrow Festival dates back much further than some of us may think. The story starts in 1651 when a 21 year old King Charles II fled from the Battle of Worcester following his defeat by Oliver Cromwell. He famously hid up the Royal Oak in the grounds of Boscobel House, near Bishops Wood, to escape from Cromwell’s troops. When Cromwell died, the country asked Charles to return to the throne and his coronation took place on May 29th, 1660. From then on King Charles declared that May 29th should be celebrated as Oak Apple Day in honour of his escape. The public were to wear oak leaves as a sign of loyalty and the children would pinch the bottoms of others not doing so, hence it was also called ‘pinch-bum-day’! Celebrations continued until 1859 when it was felt more important to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday and the British Empire on May 24th.
Fast forward to 2006, a group of worshippers from St. John’s Church decided to revive the Oak Apple Festival with a celebration of music performances, art displays, history talks, flower displays…..and scarecrows! The festival was such a success it became a regular event for the village. The 2006 Festival even made national news when Al the Police Scarecrow, created by the Foster family, initially tricked motorists into slowing down through the village but was then subsequently stolen!
The 2023 Festival will place a little later than the traditional Oak Apple Festival, from August 28th to September 9th. All villagers are encouraged to make a scarecrow and put it on display for the two weeks. Those not in the village but still wanted to take part are welcome to make a scarecrow and display it in the grounds of the Village Hall on Saturday 9th September. On that Saturday the Village Hall will be hosting a Community Fun Day from 2pm to conclude the festival, which includes a trail to see all of the scarecrows around the village, hot food, bar, Gin Bar, bouncy castle, facepainting and live music!
2019 & 2021 saw over 80 scarecrows in the Village and surrounding areas, so come on, lets see if we can smash the record for the number of scarecrows in 2023! But please parents, don’t encourage children to pinch the bottoms of those not taking part!