February 20th Major Oak Day.




February 20th - Major Oak Day - Hayman Rooke and Sherwood Forest.

It's a fair bet that you have not heard of Major Oak Day, all being well 2010 it will be the first time it is celebrated,  how has this come about, well I was looking to nail down Major Hayman Rookes Birthday because I could see the tri-centenary ( 300 years ) of his birthday approaching.  As the Major Oak had taken Hayman's Army rank or part of,  I thought it would be appropriate to adopt the Major's birthday as a day of celebration for England's finest living monument - The Major Oak.  I tried in vain to find some sort of evidence of Hayman Rookes birthday, I banged just about every button on Google but all in vain.  However I remember reading that certain documents relating to Hayman were lodged in Mansfield Woodhouse Library.  I emailed the library and nothing happened so I felt I had to redouble my efforts, then out of the Blue I received a response from the Library from Mr David Crute, David had been handed my email request and managed to track down the earliest details for the good Major.  The date that came to light was 20th February 1723,  Hayman being Christened on the 19th March 1723 at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster.  David also took considerable pains to explain to me that there were technical problems with the actual date as it was recorded as his Birth Date / Christening,  to add more fuel to the fire this date was based on  the Julian calendar and we are now on the Gregorian calendar, confused ? you soon will be. 

Up until 1752 the world revolved around the Julian calendar which was OK but it constantly needed bits and pieces putting in to keep it on track,  so you could never be exactly certain as to how many days were in a month or just how many months you might have in a year.  Still not confused, well the Julian calendar year started in April and not as we know it now as Gregorian January.  Now this raises an interesting fact regarding April fools day. In 1752 the calendar changed over to the one we now know, people were accustomed to updating the year on the 1st of April.  With the introduction of the Gregorian calendar the year now changed the on the 1st of January,  by the time you reached April 1st some people had forgotten about the new calendar or possibly did not want to recognise it, and consequently changed the year on the 1st April, this would give rise to exasperation by recipients of mail and documents that had the wrong year and the sender or Author would be labelled an April fool out of anger more than trickery.  Anyway back to the plot, not everyone changed to the Gregorian calendar, namely the Inland Revenue insisted on staying put and did a small calculation to adjust the days and came up with the 5th April as the end of the tax year - groan.  To produce an exact computation for Hayman's Birthday would only confuse matters and even the year he was born can come into question, so I respectfully suggested that purists aside, the day nominated on Hayman's certificate in London be accepted as the day for celebration.  In the time when Hayman was born child mortality would be high so there would be a sense of urgency to bring any child into the Church of God,  Hayman had several brothers and sisters so it can be reasonably assumed that his parents were well versed financially to been able to record all of their Births / Christenings, so if there was any difference between Hayman's actual birth date and his Christening the time span would be minimal, so again keeping to the recorded date is as accurate as one could possibly get.



Major Hayman Rooke died on the 18th September 1806 aged 83.  he is buried in the chancel,  ( Tombstone is on the Chancel floor South Side ) of St Edmund's Church in Mansfield Woodhouse.  Only two years before his death he was working as a Justice of the Peace and it is recorded he jailed a local Mansfield Woodhouse man for various serious offences.  The Major will always be known for his scientific studies and love of the environment, he formed a close friendship with the 4th Duke of Portland and often rode with the Duke on hunting trips,  and enjoyed considerable hospitality at Welbeck Abbey.

The 20th February is a time when we in the northern hemisphere are in the midst of our winter, and the middle two weeks in February are our two traditional weeks when we can expect snow,  so spare a thought for the Major Oak,  that has endured and survived over 800+ winters,  and we hope a lot more to come.  An ideal time for Celebration as Christmas has passed and a short haul to spring Bank Holiday,  an ideal opportunity to revive the spirits and keep the Breweries in business.  I feel certain Hoteliers, Clubs and Pub' Landlords will help promote the day and evening celebrations in and around the County of Nottinghamshire.


<<<   LEFT  Enhanced Images of Hayman Rookes Tomb Stone

Showing serious signs of wear.


 UPDATE 07/05/2009  I now have official confirmation that Hayman Rookes Birthday is in fact the 20th February 1723.

  Update 12/05/2009  Record of Hayman's Birth / Christening received this morning, on second glance I noticed Hayman's Christian name is spelt as HEYMAN.


 St Edmunds Church Mansfield Woodhouse.

St Edmunds Church Mansfield Woodhouse

Churches and Venues Celebrating Major Oak Day 2011 ( Sunday ).

Churches Phone
St Edmund's Church Mansfield Woodhouse  
St Mary's Church Edwinstowe.  

If we have missed you, please accept our apologies, here is a PDF you can download to advertise the day / evening, 

Please let us know if you wish to support the celebrations and we will include you in the above list.


WARNING ----  A group using our name and location are using Auction sites in America for fundraising netting thousands of Dollars > Please be aware they are fraudulent !  -  MAJOR OAK DAY IS CELEBRATED ON MAJOR HAYMAN ROOKES BIRTHDAY - 20th FEBRUARY,   ONLY 8 YEARS TO TRI-CENTENARY ! 


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