England’s ancient oaks
England’s ancient oaks
The ancient oaks
If you’d like to see these ancient oaks for yourself (and there really is nothing like standing beneath one in person), we’ve gathered together some of the best places to head to, as well as some of the most notable trees.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
During his research, Aljos Farjon discovered Europe’s largest collection of ancient oaks in Blenheim Palace’s grounds, including the King Oak which is believed to be over 1,000 years old. Originally created as a deer park by King Henry I, it’s one of the rare instances of a landscape altered by Capability Brown where the oaks were largely left in place. Although the area they’re largely found in, High Park, is now privately owned, the trees can still be seen from the perimeter walk.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
One of the best well-known of the royal forests, Sherwood Forest was once much larger and covered a fifth of Nottinghamshire. It’s home to the Major Oak, which has become associated with the legend of Robin Hood. Supposedly he hid in its branches from the Sheriff of Nottingham, even though the tree would’ve been just a sapling at the time...
Richmond Park, London
Although not a medieval deer park (it was created by King Charles I from common land), Richmond Park is a good example of how the landscape of one might’ve looked: open pastureland dotted with trees. It’s home to a great number of ancient trees, not just oaks, including the Royal Oak which is estimated to be around 750 years old. You can find it standing near to Pen Ponds.
Savernake Forest, Wiltshire
This Anglo-Saxon forest near Marlborough became a royal forest when it passed to the Normans after 1066. Today, it’s privately owned by the Earl of Cardigan which has saved it from over planting. Its most famous tree is the Big Belly Oak, which has a girth of over 11 metres and can be seen just off the A346.
The Bowthorpe Oak, Lincolnshire
Sat in a paddock on a working farm, The Bowthorpe Oak is England’s widest pedunculate oak (one of our two native species, alongside the English oak), measuring 13.3 metres, and is also completely hollow. At weekends, it can be viewed for just a small fee payable to the farmer.
Old Man of Calke, Derbyshire
This tree, reckoned to be more than 1,000 years old, can be found in the National Trust owned Calke Park. Its name was chosen through a competition, held when the site became a National Nature Reserve in 2006.
Aljos Farjon’s book, Ancient Oaks in the English Landscape, can be bought here.