The Shropshire village of Aston-on-Clun holds a very special festival at this time of year as its inhabitants celebrate Arbour Day (not to be confused with the tree planting festival of the same name).
Black Poplar in the centre of the Village
Every year, the black poplar in the centre of the village is decorated with flags which stay in position until the following year. The origins of the festival are disputed; some claim they are pre-Christian but others state that they started in 1660 when Charles II declared 29th May a public holiday, known as Oak Apple Day.
Oak Apple day was abolished in 1859 but in Aston-on-Clun its spirit was preserved due to the marriage of local squire John Marston in 1786. His wedding coincided with Arbour Day and his bride, Mary Carter, was so charmed by the colourful custom that the family gave funds to continue the event. Unusually for a tree associated with folk festivities, the Arbour tree is a black poplar tree. The present tree grew from a rooted cutting taken from the old tree which was said to be at least 300 years old when it collapsed in 1995.
This year the celebrations will take place on Sunday May 29th.