Queen Elizabeth Oak

ON THE COWDRAY ESTATE

21 January 2014

MIDHURST, WEST SUSSEX

That stumpy tree in the middle of the photograph is the famous 'Queen Elizabeth Oak'. So-called because Queen Elizabeth I sheltered in this tree during a visit to Midhurst 1591. I'll save you from doing the maths; that makes it more than 420 years ago – and I'm guessing if the oak tree was big enough to shelter in 420 years ago it must have been at least a couple of hundred years old in 1591. "Cor blimey" I hear you say! "I didn't know that stumpy oak trees could live for 700 years"... Well check this. Arbor specialists have actually dated this tree to around 1,000 years old. That's a very big "cor blimey"!

So there you go. It's true. (Well, not the bit about Queen Elizabeth sheltering in the tree. That's probably made-up). Midhurst is home to an oak tree with royal connections that's 1,000 years old. Not bad eh?

Some details? She's a Sessile Oak. Which means in her early days her height was stunted by having the top cut out of her. So whilst she isn’t very tall, she’s managed to get very, VERY big around her bottom. A massive girth of 41 feet. The tree is hollow with space enough for ten people to squeeze inside. If you're a tree buff you'll know that the Queen Elizabeth Oak is ranked in the top 50 trees in the UK. And incredibly enough, there's another top 50 tree just half a mile away – the Cowdray Colossus, a might Sweet Chestnut which is incredibly tall and which also has a very big bottom. Both of these trees to be at the top of TripAdvisor's recommendations for attractions in the Midhurst area.

My photograph gives the illusion that this tree and its neighbour are in the middle of an open field. They're not. The ground behind these trees slopes gently upwards which is where the fog and the mist come to the rescue. Happy days. The photo below is a postcard from 1910. Not one of my photos!

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