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The church of St Edmund, Castleton, in the Diocese of Derby, was once called ‘the church of Peak Castle’ . That was back in 1269, when Prince Edward (later Edward I) gave it to the Abbey of Vale Royal, in Cheshire.  The current church is a mix of styles, but there is an impressive tower at the west end, with what are described as ‘crocketed pinnacles’ on the battlements.

The small Derbyshire town of Castleton is famous for a number of things; Peveril Castle, a Norman fortification which dominates the skyline; ‘Blue John’, a unique semi-precious mineral which is used to produce the signature jewelry of the same name; the caverns and show caves – including ‘Titan’ the biggest cave in Britain - underneath the nearby Peak District hills; and the Castleton Garland Day. St. Edmund’s Church in the center of the village plays a big part in this event, which is usually held on Oak Apple Day, May 29th (an oak apple is a type of plant gall, found on oak trees)

 This festival commemorates the restoration of the Stuart dynasty, in the person of King Charles II, to the throne of England in 1660. Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist, wrote,

“Parliament had ordered the 29 of May, the King’s birthday, to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King’s return to his Government, he entering London that day.”

 The whole town as well as people from miles around come to see the Garland King paraded through the centre of Castleton wearing a most elaborate outfit, which covers him from the waist upwards, like a giant inverted ice cream cone, woven from spring flowers and greenery. He is accompanied by his Consort, who also rides the same route; fortunately, she doesn’t have to wear an incredibly heavy ‘garland’.  At the end of their ride their horses are lead into St Edmund’s churchyard, where the garland is finally lifted from the ‘Kings’ shoulders, and hauled by rope to the top of the church tower. It is displayed there for a week. A small part of the garland, called the Queen Posey,  is removed and carried to the town war memorial. Sprigs of oak leaves are worn by many, to commemorate the fact that King Charles II hid in an oak tree to escape Parliamentary troopers, as he fled to France.

Oak Apple Day is no longer an official holiday, but various communities celebrate it in some fashion. It is highly likely that what we are seeing is a holdover from pre-Roman times, when the local Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, would have held a fertility festival to welcome back the warm sun. Castleton may be small, but it is full of hidden delights!

Originally posted to shortfinals on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:22 AM PST.

Also republished by Derbyshire and The Peak District and History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I only wish there were more photos (3+ / 0-)

    Lovely spot and folklore.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:46:01 AM PST

    •  Thank you! I'm planning a whole series on.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, Joy of Fishes

      ...Derbyshire, where I am from. A large part of the county forms part of the Peak District National Park, the first National Park to be created in Great Britain. I'm biased, of course, but I think it contains some very interesting and beautiful contryside.

      Watch out for diaries on the National Tramway Museum, Crich Monument, Cromford Mills, Cromford Canal, Midland Railway Museum, Peak Rail, Cave Dale, Winnats Pass, Peveril Castle, Bolsover Castle, Haddon Hall, Snake Pass and many more Derbyshire subjects!

      Meanwhile, if you like the photographs, try my link to 'Redbubble', although my own photographic site is in preparation.

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:14:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Railways??!!!? WHERE? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shortfinals, ruleoflaw, JaxDem

        Just kidding (somewhat), but you have my continued attention now...that, and no school for two weeks, so I am no longer so rushed during the day and can comment more.

        A Merry Christmas to you and yours, Short Finals, and a Happy New Year!

        •  Hello! For my sins, which shall NOT discuss, ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ruleoflaw, JaxDem

 FIRST curatorial appointment was at the then Leicestershire Museum of Technology, which as well as containing many Auster/British Taylorcraft objects, also contained more than a smattering of GCR locos/items, and an interesting industrial/small-gauge railway collection.

          Please watch for a diary on the re-opening of the Peak Rail into Matlock (I was there that week-end, and one of my family is a shareholder); something on the GCR, something on Butterley Station (I was went on a 'special' from there, across Monsal Viaduct to Manchester Belle Vue - motive power = one Black Five); and a diary on the Bulleid Pacifics.

          Oh, completely forgot....would you like a diary on the Golden Valley Light Railway (I travel on it, each year)?

          See, I actually know a little bit about railways. It comes from having lived for the first 25 years of my life within four miles of where the Midland Counties Railway was formed. (Later, Midland Railway, still later LMS, of course!)

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 02:23:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, to everything, or... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shortfinals, JaxDem

            "Please Sir, May I have some more?" (full credit to Mr. Dickens)

            I grew up with the Great Northern Railway line from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada running just 70 feet from my parent's house. While I am still too young to remember any steam power, I do remember the first generation Diesels that populated the line in the 1960's and later. You might say the the sound of steel wheels on steel rails is a bit of an attraction for me, so yes, please, thank you very much sir for your future endeavours!

            I truly appreciate British railways in general, since they are the progenitor of all that is ferroequinology. I've followed the Continental railways quite a bit, especially those pesky Germans (and have the Märklin to prove it), but reading material and/or knowledge of the UK railway scene is sparse. Ergo, my delight in having a source of 'hands-on' experience who is willing to write about them.

            Many thanks, SF.

            •  Not a problem itzadry heat! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              My cousin is a great expert on the Midland Railway (and has more than a casual knowledge of other railway systems), has a major collection of railway ephemora, name plates, gradient signs, and other items, and for many years used to organize the annual 'railway auctions' in Sheffield - the premier auctions of their kind in the North of England.

              As a boy I grew up watching the last flourish of mainline steam. I used to walk to the local line, and see the crack express trains, like 'The Master Cutler' and 'The Thames-Clyde Express' thundering north out of London, drawn by such iconic engine classes as 'Royal Scot', 'Patriot' (yes, before it was a missile!) and 'Jubilee'. Even the ponderous -seeming endless - coal trains heading south to feed the power stations around London, were sometimes drawn by the largest steam engines used in Britain, the massive Beyer-Garrett compounds. Being close to the main loco works in Derby (along with the carriage and wagon works and the BR Research Centre) meant that I saw the rise of diesel power. Sometimes, I used to travel with friends to see other rail systems - this was in the days of the GNER, LMS, GWR and Southern Railway 'Groups'. So I had a chnace to see the A3, A4, 'King', 'Castle' and 'Hall' classes still running under steam (and yes, I have actually seen the great "Mallard", the record-holder, in service, before she was preserved 'under glass' so to speak)

              Yes I saw, the 'Deltic' and its successors, and, of course, the 'Peak' class.

              As I said, my main career 'arc' has always involved aviation, but my museum experience exposed me to many other technologies and their history. Expect, therefore, some more railway diaries, from time to time.


              'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

              by shortfinals on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 03:57:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I enjoyed this, sf. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you!

    •  My great pleasure, JF! (0+ / 0-)

      As you can see from the previous comment, I have decided to do a series of diaries (please note, INCLUDING castles) on my beloved Derbyshire. It will take time of course, as I must weave them into the narrative - with aviation aways forming the core.

      May you and yours have a truly wonderful holiday season, with much joy - for Joy! (Also for Country Joe and the Fish)

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 12:41:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stunning photo, sf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and brilliant post.  What a delightful mini history of the Derbyshire area as it relates to the church of St Edmund.  Then, the tantalizing mention of caves, caverns, a railway museum, and Peak District National Park just leaves me drooling for more.

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:56:12 PM PST

    •  Dear JD, I shall try to satisfy the... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...expressed desires of everyone! See, that's more railways, more castles, more Derbyshire, more.....everything, really! :)

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 04:47:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Move over, Santa (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        shortfinals is here!

        What a gem we have in one of our newest Kossacks and American citizens.  

        Happy Holidays, my friend.

        As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

        by JaxDem on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:03:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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