I am a medievalist in the process of completing a PhD (involving medieval medicine). I travel as much as possible at home (UK) and abroad. I'm always ready for new experiences!
Published August 20th 2014
England's most historic, beautiful, and quirky trees
The Woodland Trust is currently asking the public to enter their favourite tree into the English Tree of the Year competition. The competition closes on 29 September 2014 and voting will commence in October. The winner of the competition will then be entered into the European Tree of the Year competition.
In the spirit of the competition, here is a selection of English trees from a variety of locations which were chosen for either visual appeal or historical significance.
Just outside of Nottingham in the village of Attenborough is an old quarry that has been transformed into a thriving nature reserve full of walking trails, lakes, woodland, and wildlife. The reserve is full of potential candidates for 'best tree', but the one pictured above, with its twisting branches and gnarled trunk, commands more attention than the others. It is located near the visitor's centre trail right next to the lake. See here for more information on the reserve.
Sherwood Forest's Major Oak stands out amidst an area full of ancient oak trees (some of them over a thousand years old). It has previously won the title of 'best tree' due to its age and colourful history. According to legend, this tree was the meeting place for Robin Hood and his gang of outlaws. It was also used as a hiding place for Charles I at the beginning of the English Civil War. The massive tree is still healthy and growing, but its great weight has been supported by scaffolding for many years.
The University of Nottingham was recently ranked the 'greenest university in the world' for its environmentally-friendly practices and achievements in sustainability. The campus is also 'green' in quite a literal way, as it contains several beautifully-constructed gardens and a woodland area surrounding a large lake. The campus is a particularly nice area to enjoy autumnal colours in the trees. The photos here were taken along the lakeside walking path.
Already a winner of many accolades, Isaac Newton's Apple Tree may not be the most beautiful tree in England, but it is certainly one of the most historically significant. The tree is located in the apple orchard of Isaac Newton's family farm and birthplace. The famous story states that Newton came up with the description of gravity when he watched an apple fall from his tree. He is said to have asked himself the question 'why does the apple always fall down?' See the following link for more information on visiting Woolsthorpe Manor.
Not far from the University of Nottingham is Wollaton Hall, which is also famous for serving as Wayne Manor in the recent Batman films. Apart from its connection with the caped crusader, the Hall boasts several hundred acres of parkland and nature walks. Elegant rows of old lime trees tower over the former carriage way leading to the house. These trees are full of age and character and it's difficult to choose just one as the best. See the following for more information on Wollaton Hall.
The Green Park is one of London's royal parks. It is situated next to Buckingham Palace between Hyde Park and St James's Park. Like Wollaton Hall, the Green Park has a tree-lined road that approaches the palace. The size and age of these trees is the most captivating aspect of the park. The aesthetic appeal of the trees is in their arrangement as a group, rather than just one outstanding individual.
The Lamb and Flag Passage is an alleyway that connects St Giles with Museum Road. It is near Keble College and St John's College. The passage runs next to a pub of the same name, which has ties with the Inklings, although they are more famously associated with the Eagle and Child pub across the street. In the middle of the passage is a giant, sprawling tree that is hard to just walk by without appreciating its age and beauty. In such a historic location within the University of Oxford it seems appropriate that the tree should have witnessed some dramatic events. If it does have such a story to tell, it remains a mystery. Regardless of its ties to history, this tree definitely wins my vote for 'best English tree'.