The Trust was established in 2012 to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by providing opportunities for the community to enjoy, observe and help conserve the natural world.
Thanks to a generous donation, 3.3 acres of land (part of the former Scott’s Nursery, opposite St George’s Hall) was purchased in perpetuity for the village in 2012 and was the Trusts first project. Thanks to a grant from the Forestry Commission this land has been developed into Jubilee Wood, with over 3000 trees and shrubs and Community Orchard of more than 150 apple trees. It is the first public wood in the village, offering opportunities for dog walking and other leisure activities, nature trails, traditional celebrations and an outdoor classroom for the village school.
The wood has been used for traditional Wassail Celebrations in January each year, often followed by a barn dance in St George’s Hall. In addition, Oak Apple Day celebrations have been held on the late May Bank Holiday Monday most years. These celebrations include demonstrations of traditional woodland skills, animal and bird displays, games and tractor rides etc.
Thanks to the generous support of the Parish Council, The Reading Room Trust and South Somerset District Council we have been able to use contactors to to develop and maintain the wood. However, much the work has also been undertaken by our enthusiastic team of village volunteers, particularly the development of the Community Orchard.
Oak Apple Day, which falls on the 29th May, used to be a public holiday created to celebrate the restoration of King Charles II in 1660 and although it ceased to be a public holiday in the nineteenth century it is still celebrated in many parts of England. For the past few years Oak Apple Day has been marked by a day of festivities in Jubilee Wood on the late May Bank Holiday.
Inspired by these celebrations, two village residents, Caroline van den Berg and David Adams donated a special oak tree to the wood. This tree was a direct descendent of the famous Boscobel House Royal Oak in which the future King Charles II hid after the battle of Worcester in 1651.
As centrepiece of this year’s Oak Apple Day celebrations Caroline wrote, directed and performed in a special re-enactment of the escape of the future King Charles II from the roundheads in 1651. Charles, played by Katie Tyszka, arrived on horse, accompanied by Colonel Careless, played by Tina Cogen. After a brief skirmish with roundheads he hid behind the small newly planted Boscobel Oak, making use of a stepladder, before escaping to France and finally returning triumphant as king.
The event was thoroughly enjoyed by many of the 150 or so visitors to Oak Apple Day, and is sure to become a regular event at future celebrations and maybe one day the tree will have grown large enough for the future king to really hide in.
Over 100 adults, children and dogs braved the cold weather on Saturday 21st Jan for the annual Jubilee Wood Wassail celebrations. The proceedings were opened by the Wood patron, Jan Goddard-Watts, who switched on the lights in the centre of the Wood. After the attendees had been fortified by mulled cider and apple juice the Lord of Misrule, Nigel Hayler, led a candle lit lantern procession to the centre of the Wood, accompanied by the Babylon Border Morris and the barn dance band, Rapscallion. There followed morris dancing and the singing of wassail songs before the traditional Wassail celebrations around the guardian apple tree. The evening concluded with a cacophony of sound to drive out the devils and wake the trees to produce bumper apple harvest for 2017.
Following on from the Wassail, there was a sell out barn dance in St George’s Hall. There was enthusiastic dancing to Rapscallion, and in the interval a two-course supper was proceeded by a Mummers’ Play performed by Babylon Border Morris.