Charles Butler 400 Anniversary Celebration

Charles Butler 400 Anniversary Celebration

August 30, 2023

400 years of "The Feminine Monarchie"

Bees Abroad was delighted join the Charles Butler 400th Anniversary Bee Fayre Celebration on August 19-20. This special anniversary event of the publication of Butler’s landmark book, “The Feminine Monarchie” in 1623 was held in the beautiful parish church and meadows of Wootton St Lawrence, the pastoral home of Charles Butler. 

The event was magnificently organized by Ken Robson and David Holloway and their team of volunteers. It was a special weekend featuring a great variety of guest speakers and presentations inside the church (including our own Rachel Monger), and in the meadows outside, in the centre of all the stall-holders, there was fantastic walk-through Hive Education Centre designed by beekeepers to tell the “Bee Story” to all ages.  

Charles Butler: The "Father of English Beekeeping"

Charles Butler, known as the “Father of English Beekeeping,” wrote in incredible detail on his patient observations of the hive. His teachings on beekeeping remain an integral part of modern beekeeping to this day. Butler discovered, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, that the bees had a Queen … and not a king. In the hierarchy of the hive, in the geometry of the honeycomb and in the sounds of the bees, his observations showed how bees and music reveal an incredible order in nature.

It was a rare and special treat to hear the Melissomelos Bee Madrigral of Charles Butler performed in his church 400 years later by Stile Antico, an internationally acclaimed early music vocal ensemble!  

Thanksgiving Service and Meaningful Messages

A highlight of the event was a special Thanksgiving Service on Sunday morning. During this service, a splendid message from our Patron, Archbishop Justin Welby was shared, which captured the heart of the weekend celebrations perfectly and was hugely encouraging for us as Bees Abroad.

The service led by Revd Ben Kautzer and creatively themed around bees and in honour of Butler’s legacy, was a fitting celebration and a reminder to us all of the bigger picture of what it means to care for one another and our world.

Bee Fayre and Bees Abroad community celebrations

The Fayre brought together local communities, young and old alike, with beekeepers sharing their knowledge along with stories and crafts and plenty of family fun. Our Bees Abroad volunteers (Richard and Jane, Neil and Kath, the Monger family and Betty Buckland) welcomed many people to our stall and were able to share about the amazing beekeepers we are working with in our projects. It was exciting to share our African Honey Tasting with so many keen tasters! We were able to raise funds in donations and sales as well as promote Hive Twinning with the many beekeepers that were eager to “Bee part of the story” with us. 

Bees Abroad is a beneficiary of the Anniversary Celebrations, and we are extremely grateful to the Charles Butler Foundation for their generosity, and we look forward to collaborating on more events in the future.

For more information visit  

A beautiful commemorative book on the legacy of Charles Butler compiled and published by the Basingstoke Beekeepers Association. Available here for purchase.