Nominate YOUR Celebrity Tree: My Two Pennyworth


The search is on across Britain, and ultimately, Europe.

The Woodland Trust wants to find THAT tree. The ‘It’ Tree. A tree which has such charisma, style, age and provenance that one cannot pass it without getting a fit of the vapours.

Like the Ancient Hornbeam of Hainault; or the The Llangernyw Yew. You can check out some of the superstars here at the Woodland Trust site.

In this age of speed, efficiency, beauty and youth, it is comforting to see that age and the time-worn are still valued in a few sectors.

I personally feel there is no contest.

No: one tree leapt to mind the very second I heard on the news about the hunt.

There is an ancient abbey once great and prosperous, founded by Bishop William Giffard on 24 November 1128, and now ruined and sentenced to life as an English Heritage picnic venue and film location. It sits on the River Wey, opposite a great old house, Waverley Abbey House, and it looks like a setting for a Jane Austen novel.

You can read about our visit there on a picnic here.

Here’s the thing: at what would have been the entrance to the old abbey is a gnarled old yew, multi-limbed, nightmarish in a Harry Potter kind of way, perfect for tree climbing, wide and ancient.

It serves as a source of delight for kids visiting the abbey and affords hours of peace to their parents. A child can disappear into that yew for some considerable time.

It is so huge, and yews take such a very long time to grow, that one can only speculate that it was planted by the monks at the door of the church, with all the symbolism that might entail.

This tree: it has charisma. It exudes presence. It has provenance and keeps the best company.

This, to me, is the ‘It’ Tree.

See what you think.

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18 thoughts on “Nominate YOUR Celebrity Tree: My Two Pennyworth

  1. Oh, I love this yew; wondrous enough to catch a car flying in, isn’t it? Very Potteresque, indeed; the roots, the limbs, the hiding spots.
    Actually have a post in abeyance about my favorite tree, a copper beech. I’ll need to uproot it soon and post.
    Lovely, Kate. Can you let us know what tree is selected?

  2. What a marvelous tree! I’d have spent hours and hours among its roots and branches when I was a child. A great tree like this is a kid’s best friend.

  3. A beautiful tree. If I were there, the children wouldn’t have a chance. I’d park there with a book and dare them to interrupt me.

  4. Kate,

    As I read your post, many trees that I have seen came to mind. Banyan trees in Hawaii, Redwood, Sequoia, Live Oak, Sycamore in California, and the list goes on. Then one tree that is no more came to mind:

    “The Church of One Tree was built in 1873 from a single redwood tree milled in Guerneville, California. The tree used to construct the Church stood 275 feet high and was 18 feet in diameter.”

    I have visited this church in Santa Rosa, CA. It is amazing that a complete building could be made from one tree. It is also sad that so many of the Grand Trees of Northern California, some dating to the time of Christ, have become buildings (I guilty because my old house is made of mostly Redwood).

    It is cool that Britain is looking to find a tree that has stood the ravages of time to be a symbol of “It”. Whatever it is? I think your choice is an amazing tree.


    1. Patrick, I would love to see that church, what an incredible piece of history: but like you, I feel sad for the tree. Even here in the forest, when a great old tree falls completely naturally, I mourn. Such an incredible depository of time.

    1. Hi Aquila, thanks so much for leaving a comment today! You’re right – it really does look like a monstrous bonsai. And it has watched the old monks to-ing and fro-ing and the bustle of the abbey, and all of it fall centuries ago. As you say: the stories it could tell…

  5. What a wonderful tree, Kate. I can certainly see why you’d call this Yew your “It” tree. I can so easily become absorbed in thought about all that any tree has seen but this one surely spans the ages. I am so interested in what the Woodland Trust will discover.

  6. Perhaps it would be best if your tree does NOT win the bid to become the IT tree ~> IT wouldn’t be all that IT is with hordes of people thronging about IT.

    Think Stonehenge with tourists and Stonehenge without ~ the reality changes once people are tossed into mix, tainting the magic.

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