Still Going At 650 Years Old


Today we paid our respects to this very elderly oak tree. It has been growing in Attingham Park in Shropshire since the 1370 where it is now under the care of the National Trust and fondly known as the Repton Oak since it was already a veteran in 1797 when garden designer, Humphrey Repton landscaped the parkland for the Barons Berwick.

But just think of the span of human history it has lived through. When it popped shoot and radicle from its acorn Edward III was still on the throne, and the Hundred Years War between England and France was only half done. By the time it had grown to a sturdy sapling Geoffrey Chaucer was thinking of writing The Canterbury Tales and the peasants were in revolt against the draconian levels of taxation (raised to fight the war that did not end until 1453 and was actually the 116 years war).

The oak tree is still a great presence in the landscape though sadly its innards are decaying. But this is not all bad news since it provides an important haven for the rare Lesser Stag Beetle whose larvae feed on the rotting wood at the centre of such ancient trees.

A national treasure of a tree then: arboreal emblem of stalwart resilience. We must remember to pay another visit when it’s in leaf.




54 thoughts on “Still Going At 650 Years Old

  1. I can’t access your “like” button and you are officially “not secure” and I have no idea why your aren’t.

    Out on the west coast, we have redwood and sequoia trees that are thousands of years old. Not as many as there used to be. Too many were cut down to make sturdy backyard furniture. Take a lot of pictures. One day the tree will fall, so take a lot of pictures as long as you can.

    1. Have fixed the ‘not secure’ with help of WP. It was a link to my kindle book on my menu page – an http prefix when it needs to be https. Who knew?!

      Back to the trees. Yes too many were cut down without a thought of replacement. I remember seeing some late 19th century Shropshire photos of oaks being felled for bark for the tanning industry. Those trees were so huge. I have certainly seen none that size in my lifetime. The things we humans do.

    1. Once I’d started thinking about the tales it could tell, I had to stop myself from trying to recreate 650 years of history going on round it. Could have ended up a life-time’s project. Fascinating though.

  2. If trees could talk, we would consult this old oak on how to address the present crisis- they say old is gold and the older guy get, the more wise you become- but this is not supported by evidence in most human communities.

      1. Looks like we’ll all have to self-isolate soon. It’s hard to know quite how that will work. Our PM saying ‘don’t go out’ ‘not even for food’.

      2. He is a nitwit isn’t he . . .I know he’s trying his best but surely about time to hand over to crisis experts.
        My pantry usually has another for a couple of weeks anyway, so have topped up to take us to three . . and then out I will be going given I am the one who is not in the at risk group. Pondering whether to decontaminate myself by stepping into downstairs shower every time I return (joking!)

      3. To say confidence in the man is lacking would be an understatement. Possibly he’s busy trying to protect the interests of tory party donors – or is that too cynical…

      4. As more and more politicians fail to do real jobs for at least 10 years before they become politicians the more we are going to see of this I fear . . .there again perhaps my theory doesn’t make sense as on the other side of the pond their supposed leader seems even worse and he apparently did have a job! So maybe your cynicism is closer to the mark.

      5. Also too many ex-journalist MPs in power! Given the state of the British press, even the so-called quality papers, why would anyone expect them to be much good at exercising reponsibility on behalf of the nation.

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