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We are lucky to have some of these historic trees in our area.


Crowhurst Yew, nr. Hastings, East Sussex

The trunk of the Crowhurst yew is split, which makes her very difficult to date, but she is potentially the oldest yew in Sussex. It is believed the yew was here in 1066 when William the Conqueror destroyed King Harold’s manor of Crowhurst.

Hope Muntz’s 1948 novel The Golden Warrior, which is all about Harold, describes how his reeve was hanged from the yew for refusing to reveal where his master’s treasure was hidden. It has also been claimed that the invading Normans also made some of their bows from the wood of the tree.

By 1680 the base was considerable and was measured at thirty-three feet. In 1833 a local guidebook thought the yew was on her last legs, but was happily wrong. At the start of the twentieth century (1909) she was railed in by the local squire and this incident was woven into a 2016 Sherlock Holmes story.

Down the years some distinguished persons and group s have received young yews grown from her seed. These include the writer, Rudyard Kipling, King George V and the Cambridge Botanical Gardens.

Scotney Castle Hornbeam, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

The hornbeam at the National Trust’s Scotney Castle was planted as part of a wood pasture around the 1400s and it forms a major part in the historical, ecological, and cultural part of the Scotney Estate

As the land around it was historically grazed by animals, and still is today, the tree has been managed as a pollard rather than a coppice. The hornbeam would have been harvested on an annual basis with the stems being removed at around 8ft, bundled up as faggots, and then used by the local community as household fuel.

Once the stems had been removed the tree would be left to allow any new growth to develop and then it would be re-pollarded the following year for more firewood.

Legend has it a tonic made from hornbeam was said to relieve tiredness and exhaustion, and its leaves were used to stop bleeding and heal wounds.

The Witch’s Broom Tree, Abinger Roughs, Dorking, Surrey

Just a glance explains why locals gave this old beech the moniker of ‘Witch’s Broom’, with its stubby shape and thicket of twisted branches. Take a closer look and part of the trunk has become so gnarled it resembles a human skull.

Estimated to be 200-300 years old, this veteran has drawn generations of children to clamber and hide amongst its branches. A honey pot for bees too according to those who remember playing in it as children many summers ago.

Two theories compete to explain its quirky shape and nine metre girth. One being simple genetics and the other that it may have been ‘bundle planted’, an old woodland practice of planting several seeds or saplings together to yield many small stems for ease of harvesting.