The Queen Elizabeth Oak
At the weekend we were taken to a small corner of Sussex that’s home to one of Britain’s most celebrated trees… And here she is, in all her glory!
Tucked away on the Cowdray Estate, off the beaten track and behind a simple fence in a field of cows is the magnificent “Queen Elizabeth Oak”. A mighty remnant of the Middle Ages, this Sessile Oak is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old. To put this in context, this tree was already 500 years old when the Cowdray Estate was first established back in 1532.
Now this tree may not look like your typical mighty oak, but in 2002 she was ranked as one of the top 50 Great British Trees – plus she’s rated as one of Britain’s Top 5 Oaks! She’s a pollarded tree (which means in her early days her height was stunted by having the top cut out of her), and whilst she isn’t very tall, she’s managed to get very, VERY big around her bottom! In fact, she has a massive girth of 41 feet!
The tree is hollow with space enough for ten people to squeeze inside. And if legend is to be believed, Queen Elizabeth I took shelter from the rain here during a visit to the estate in 1591, hence the name.
Browsing around on the web I also came across this photo on The Ancient Tree Hunt website. It dates back to 1910. It’s an Edwardian postcard from the Steve Young Collection, and shows how the shape of the tree has changed in the last hundred years.
Six months later, and quite by chance I stumbled across a website called Francis Firth where you can buy and view old photos and postcards. There’s even a picture of the Queen Elizabeth Oak like this.
More thanks to Andy G for leading us to this amazing tree.