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What`s New - December 2007

A NEW WEB PAGE entitled Help Find an Old Yew has been introduced. More than 500 sites are listed where a yew or yews have been historically recorded and are awaiting verification.

Yews in Ireland
Information about old yews growing in Ireland has been made available, enabling us to add twenty-six new sites to the Gazetteer. The following have been verified in recent years by Aubrey Fennell, on behalf of the Tree Register of Ireland.

Adare Manor; Assolas House; Belvedere House; Brook Hall; Bunclody; Carton House, Maynooth; Castle Upton; Castle Ward; Doneraile Court; Dunloe Castle; Forenaughts/Furness House; Glebe House, Newcastle; Glencormac; Glenstal Abbey; Glenveagh Castle; Gormanston College; Knockabbey; Loughcrew Gardens; Loughgall Agricultural Station; Marlay Park, Rathfarnham; Maynooth; Moore Abbey; Oldbridge House, Drogheda; Rathkenny House
At Clontarf and Killyleigh Castle, yews were last recorded in 1897.

A new article written by David Lloyd-Jones of Cheshire Arboriculture, has been added to the Lost Yews web page. The article first appeared in A Cheshire Life Magazine and can be found by clicking on Vale Royal Abbey, Cheshire.

Lost Yews have been recorded at East Ilsley and Manest Court Farm.

New photos have been added at:
Pen-y-clawdd – Geoff Garlick
Leeds and Northiam – Cliff Hansford
Knole Park – Tim Hills

Historic photos of the Dryburgh Yew have been supplied by Christian Wolf.

December 2007

What`s New - November 2007

3 new articles

Two of these appear in the Lost Yew web page:

  • The Cholsey Yew, felled by a storm in 1989.
  • The Woodford Yew, weakened by a series of fires and unable to withstand the hurricane of 1987.

The Decayed but Reviving churchyard Yew at Offwell is found on the Churchyard Yew web page. This tree was thought to be dying in the early 19th century and in 1808 a new one planted to replace it. It is a classic illustration of the recuperative powers of an old yew tree.

New sites have been visited and recorded at:

Charing Heath – Cliff Hansford
Morland; Pen–y–clawdd – Tim Hills
Hawkshead; Warwick Bridge – Derek Holdsworth
Ardingley – Stonehurst; Ashprington – Sharpham House; Compton Chamberlayne; Eastbourne; Easthampstead; Eridge Park; Exbury gardens; Filliegh–Castle Hill; Frithknowle; Hunsdon; Netley Heath; Wakehurst Place; Westerham – Mariner’s Hill – Owen Johnson
Silwood Park – Alan Jones
Penty Parc – Lesley Lewis
Mugdock Country Park – John Miller
Dropmore Estate; Melbury Chapel; Selborne – The Wakes; Stowe landscaped gardens; Tarbat House; Tyninghame House – Alan Mitchell
Tottenham House – Jack Oliver
Dargavel House; Rosslyn – Jim Paterson
Dalhousie Castle – Donald Rodger
New Forest at Bolderwood – Hampshire Field Club
Ballikinrain House, nr Balfron – Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland

New photos have been added at:
Great Burstead; North Perrott – Owen Johnson
Dalhousie Castle; Rosslyn – Andy McGeeney
Martindale – Janet Wedgewood

Lost Yews are recorded at Tourner Bury Hill Fort on Hayling Island

Historic photos from Christian Wolf have been added to the following: Estry; La Haye de Routôt: La Lande–Patry; Montgardon; Offranville; Stoke Poges; West Kington

November 2007

What`s New - October 2007

New entries, with photographs, of the following::
Clifton–on–Teme B4204, Frongoch, Hanmer, Hirnant, Lilleshall Abbey, Little Ness, Llanarmon Mynydd–Mawr, Llandrinio, Llandysilio, Llangar, Llangollen – Tyndale Hall, Llangollen to World's End, Llangynog (Powys), Llansantffraid–ym–Mechain, Llanyblodwel, Llanuwchllyn, Maesyrychen Mountain, Myndtown, Myndtown (Pilgrim’s route), Richard's Castle Hill Fort, Seatoller, Selattyn, Stockton–on–Teme, Tarrant Rushton, Tilstock, White Abbey – Tim Hills

Historic photos
Christian Wolf has provided images of ancient yews at the following locations: Brabourne – a 1907 image and its caption ‘a 3000 year old yew’ adds to the evidence that this relatively small girthed yew might be a well developed fragment of the yew recorded by Evelyn in 1664 with a girth of 58ft 11ins. If this could be proved, the fragment would be from a yew with a greater girth than that in Fortingall, for so long regarded as the oldest vegetation in Europe.
Mardale – a record of the yews that once grew in this drowned valley
Buckland–in–Dover, La Haye de Routot, Llanerfyl, Painswick, Seatoller

Lost Yews are recorded at:
Ewhurst Green – Cliff Hansford
North Bradley – Tim Hills
Llansteffan – Ros Jones

New photos have been added at:
Payhembury and Plymtree – John Frampton

October 2007

What`s New - September 2007

New sites recorded at:
Upminster – David Martin
House of Dun (unvisited)

New photos added at:
Helmdon; Thorpe Mandeville; Uppington – Ian Robert Brown

Lost Yews are recorded at Chigwell, Martley amd Garth Brengy. In 1862 there were reported to be 33 yews at Garth brengy, described as the remaining trees from a double line of yews which once surrounded the church. By 1998 that number had been further reduced to 23.

Historic reference to yews at Llanspyddid in 1775 has been supplied by J.P.D.Williams.

September 2007

What`s New - August 2007

New sites have been visited and recorded at:
Fincastle – Prof.R.S.Barbour
Finlarig Castle, Scone Palace – Eileen Buchanan
Broughton, Hampshire: Carrog: Colaton Raleigh: East Tytherleigh: Highbury Wood: Middle Chinnock: Odcombe: Otterton Vicarage: Puzzle Wood: West Chinnock: Woodbury – Tim Hills
Inchlonaig – Iona Hyde
North Moreton – Dave Kenny
Grimescar Wood – Steven Priest
Alderwasley Park – J and M Wiltshire

New unvisited sites have been added at:
Craigallian: Fincastle: Megginch Castle: Queenwood: Roxburgh Castle: Strichen House: Townhead

New photos/information have been added at:
Cholsey – information provided by Paul Bendall and Janet Wedgwood
Fortingall – Eileen Buchanan
Vinters Valley – Cliff Hansford
Didcot: South Moreton: Steventon – Dave Kenny
Brockhampton and Much Marcle – Tim Hills

A Lost Yew is recorded at Barcombe

Historic photos
Trafford Local Studies have given permission for inclusion of an 1890 photo of the Bowden Yew, the only record we have of its existence.

August 2007

What`s New - July 2007

New and amended articles

Three new articles have been added this month.

  • 1) Ageing the Yew – no core, no curve? by Fergus Kinmonth
  • 2) The Kynaston Yew – survivor of a landslide in 1575 Compiled by Tim Hills
  • 3) The Mamhilad Yew – an appendix to the 2nd edition of The Churchyard Yews of Gwent by John Daryll Evans. This article appears on the Churchyard Yews web page, which also gives details of how to order this unique study of the old yews of one county.
  • 4) Yew Tree Cottage; the yew in local place names by Russell Cleaver, has been updated to include his more recent research.

    The Yew - Trees of Great Britain and Ireland 1897 by John Lowe
    It is now possible to download and read this important work. This facility has been made available by the Canadian Libraries Internet Archive service.

    New sites have been visited and recorded at:
    Skipton – Sebastian Fattorini
    Arran Bank – Cliff Hansford
    Beacon Hill, Bromham, Fownhope, Kynaston, Morden Hall Park, Putley, Wellington – Tim Hills
    Blewbury – Sue Lay

    New photos have been added at:
    Craigends – Hamish Hamilton
    Brockhampton and Much Marcle – Tim Hills

    A Lost Yew is recorded at Broomhill Farm, Westbury in Shropshire

    Historic photos
    Christian Wolf has provided more images of ancient French yews: Mesnil-Ciboult, Naftel and St.Symphorien are represented. These are from a book called Portraits d’arbres by Henri Gadeau de Kerville (1858-1940)
    There are also new images of the yews at La Lande-Patry taken in 1908 and 1914.
    Nearer to home is the yew avenue at Llandegai, near Bangor, first recorded in 1849; does it still look like this today?

    World’s oldest DNA samples include yew
    These have been recently recovered from muddy sediments beneath a mile-deep ice cap in Greenland, providing evidence that Greenland was covered in dense forest less than a million years ago. The fragments of DNA, thought to be between 450,000 and 900,000 years old include genetic material from yew, pine and alder. The significance of finding yew in this sample is that it provides evidence of winter temperatures being no lower than minus 17C”.
    From an article by Steve Connor, Science Editor of The Independent

July 2007

What`s New - June 2007

New Article - The Dibden Yew A full account of the demise of this once fine yew was written in 1837. It can be read on the Lost Yews web page.

Cregrina – a second 20’ + girthed yew has been uncovered by Russell Cleaver. It was overlooked at the time of my own visit in 1999 when dense undergrowth prevented examination.
Gyffin – a churchyard yew whose girth increased by only 1ft 2ins in 104 years.
Lost yews are recorded at Bolney and Wormshill.
Photographs of the yew at Horton, Berkshire provided by Dave Kenny and Tim Hills.
The Porlock yew and the Offranville Yew Christian Wolf has provided an 1895 drawing of the Porlock yew showing its dramatic decline in 105 years. An old postcard of the Offranville Yew in France is included.

Caversham Court Gardens
Caversham Court Gardens are to receive a grant of £1.3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the 17th and 19th century features of the gardens. This includes a ‘group of yew trees’. When Hampton Court Gardens were restored it led to the destruction of many old yews. It is to be hoped that in this instance the fine yew illustrated on the Gazetteer web page will not be harmed.

A Health and Safety tale
A school in Oxfordshire was holding an inspection of its premises and looking for potential risks. One Governor remarked that the yew tree overhanging the playground from the adjacent churchyard would have to go – since there was a risk that a child might eat its poisonous berries (arils). A member of the Parochial Church Council was alarmed that the yew was threatened. I visited to assess the situation and discovered that the yew threatened with felling on account of its poisonous berries has never had a single berry, and never will – it was a male tree.

June 2007

What`s New in May 2007

3 new articles
The following are found on the Churchyard Yew web page
The Payhembury Yew by Robin Stanes
The Yattendon Yew compiled by Tim Hills
The Yews of Ashampstead Common by Dick Greenaway is found on the Articles web–page.

New sites documented
Llanfihangel–y–Creuddyn, Trefilan – Arthur Chater
Sutton Mandeville – Alan Clarke
Bramshott – Russell Cleaver
Shepherdswell, Westbere, West Langdon – Nicholas Cox
Clifton–on–Teme – Geoff Garlick
Llandybie – building plot, Laugharne, Nupend Wood, Sapperton, Stackpole – Tim Hills
Trelowarren – Owen Johnson
Carisbrooke – Tina Williamson
King’s Wood, Kent

Lost yews recorded at:
Buckland Abbey, Forden, Slebech, West Horsley, Woodford

New photographs:
Gwenlais, Nash – Tim Hills
Leamington Hastings – Steven Falk
Upton Castle – Richard Staden

New historic postcards from Christian Wolf at:
Crowhurst (Sussex), Fortingall, La Haye de Routot, Westbere

Historic photos of the yews at:
Bishopstoke, Darley Dale (1840), Goostrey

May 2007

What`s new in April 2007

New sites visited and documented
Sholden, Teffont Evias, Whitsbury Hill Fort

Lost yews recorded at:
Deane, Fawley, Llandogo, Mardale – where “6 ancient yew trees” were felled before the land was flooded to create Haweswater.

New photos
Hanchurch, Lydney Park, Inchbrakie (Alex Graeme), Whitsbury

In the pipe line:
The Yew Stands in Europe web page should be ready for viewing later this month.
The yews of Ashampstead Common, an article by Dick Greenaway.

I no longer have time to visit all the sites with historical references to old yews. A new web page being prepared will feature lists of more than 500 such sites.

April 2007

What`s New - March 2007

New sites visited and documented

Ashampstead Common, Betteshanger, Boughton Malherbe, Bourton Combe, Cholderton,Gait Barrows, Preston Patrick, Shalbourne, Whitbarrow Scar, Witherslack, Yattendon, Yewbarrow Woods, Ynysybwl – Tim Hills
Bedham Copse, Brenchley, Broadstone Warren, Rolvendon, Sedgwick Park – Steve Young
Kent:private location 1 – Cliff Hansford
Cranborne Manor House – Peter Andrews
Felcourt – Felbridge and District History Group

Lost yews recorded at:
Bobbington, Bowdon, Cholderton, Grappenhall, Llanrothal, Swlch Tump

New photographs:
Bidborough, Boughton Malherbe, Dunsfold, Godmersham, Hambledon (Surrey), Peper Harow, Titsey Place, Ulcombe – Steve Young
Bredhurst – Cliff Hansford

More old postcards from Christian Wolf:
Aldworth, Buckland–in–Dover, Crowhurst (Sussex), Iffley, Muckross, Painswick, Selborne

1st entries for Cornwall and Rutland
Falmouth in Cornwall, information from David Ifold
Clipsham in Rutland.

March 2007

What`s New - February 2007

New Web Page

Two articles appear on our new Churchyard Yew web page. It is in churchyards that more than 80% of our known veteran and ancient yews are to be found, and those with the responsibility for looking after these ‘green monuments’ should have have access to information and guidance.
"Fragmented Yews" are often our very oldest specimens, yet they are the most likely to be misunderstood because of their appearance. The article explores more than 20 examples of fragmented yews.
"Propped Yews" illustrates how a number of churchyards have responded to a leaning tree.
Future articles will look at hollowing and internal growth.

New sites visited and documented (with photographs):
Boxley–bridleway, Farningham Wood, Leeds Castle, Owletts (National Trust), Shorne Wood Country Park – Cliff Hansford
Hampshire – private location 1, Hythe, Leigh Woods (2), Offwell, Painswick, Tormarton, Uplyme – Tim Hills
Llanarthne, Llangunnor – Ros Jones
Eastnor churchyard, Eastnor estate – Peter Andrews

Lost Yews have been recorded at the following locations:
Glynde, Llandogo, Notgrove, Roundway Down, St Weonard’s Tump, Warnham, Wormelow Tump

New photographs of Bank Hall have been provided by Steve Dearnaley.

February 2007

Threatened felling of yew tree at Chiddingfold churchyard (Latest information September 2007)

November 2006: It is proposed that the only yew growing in Chiddingfold churchyard be felled to make way for a church extension that will create a much needed community facility. The yew in question can be seen on our Yew Gazetteer page by scrolling down to Chiddingfold.

The Ancient Yew Group’s concern in this case is that the initial planning and design considerations appear to have been carried out without due consideration of the trees that would be destroyed in the process. The yew in question should benefit from three layers of protection:

  • (1) it is in a Conservation Area
  • (2) it has a Tree Preservation Order
  • (3) the proposed building work is an exception to the adopted Local Plan Policy, the site being within The Green Belt, The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a designated Area of Great Landscape Value and within the setting of a Grade 1 Listed Building all of which seek to conserve and enhance the landscape character

    Yet it seems that these count for nothing. The Planning Officers’ recommendation that planning permission be refused was overturned by Waverley Borough Council members.

    Since this is contrary to local plan policy and within the setting of a listed building it has been referred to the Government Office for the South East for the final decision. It is hoped that they are aware of the significance of their decision.

    December 2006: The Government Office for the South East informed all parties concerned that the Secretary of State would not be calling in this planning application but would leave it to the local planning authority since “Parliament had entrusted them with the responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas” and that they “are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas”. It was further added that the issues raised did not “relate to matters of more than local importance”.

    January 2007: The petitioners of the faculty which will allow the proposed church room to be built and the yew to be felled are likely to be the Rector and Churchwardens of St Mary’s, Chiddingfold, and I was given permission by The Bishop of Guildford’s Registry to notify them of my objections to the felling.

    I am informed, however, that all the correct procedures have been adhered to and that there is no alternative site where the proposed church hall could be built. This would suggest the likelihood of a faculty being granted and so the only way the yew might be saved is if it is moved to a new site.

    September 2007 The faculty has now been granted for the work to go ahead in the near future. This will necessitate felling of the yew. A fuller account of the judgement will be prepared later this autumn.

What`s New - January 2007

Gazetteer page
The heading for this page has been updated to reflect the large amount of additional material that has been added. The text now reads as follows, with the original figures in brackets:
"Brief details from more than 1100 (800) sites are available and include 300 (85) location photographs. There are also individual images of 730(450) of the 1300 (1100) trees recorded."

New Article
Upland yews by Paul Greenwood

New sites visited and documented (with photograps)
Burrington Combe, Chelmarsh, Dorset–private site 1, Knighton–on–Teme marker yew, Leamington Hastings (no photo), Leinthall Earls, Meriden – Tim Hills
Compton Verney, Priors Hardwick, Ragley Hall – Steven Falk
Ludgershall/Chute parish boundary – Peter Andrews
Ticehurst – Cliff Hansford
Bank Hall, Chipping – Steve Dearnaley

Lost yews recorded at:
Lighthorne, Trelyaston
The ‘lost yews’ web page has been updated and now lists over 200 sites.

Historic photos donated by Christian Wolf have been added for Crowhurst in Surrey and La Haye de Routot.

New photographs
Llangathen stump
Heavitree – Joules Taylor
Mamhead, Penallt, Leinthall Starkes, Little Hereford, Ashford Carbonell – Tim Hills
Goostrey – Dean Loftus

January 2007

Relocation of yew tree (February 2007)

When Orchard Care Homes acquired a new site in Cookridge for building a luxurious new state-of-the-art Care Home, they were faced with a dilemma. Should they move a 15 metre high yew or fell it? The decision was taken that the tree should be moved and the following details were sent to interested parties prior to the removal.

The tree will be transplanted 12.5 metres by using an air spade to create a rootball, install a rootball frame, with a lifting frame under the rootball frame and will then be moved to its new location.

Alistair Wood Planning & Design Manager for Orchard Care Homes said: "This procedure has rarely been attempted and Orchard Care Homes being an environmentally friendly company have taken the decision to employ the services of Ruskin Trees and Landscapes to undertake this procedure for us at a cost of nearly £8,000, which shows how serious we are about protecting the environment".

The movement of the tree will take place on Monday 8th January at 12pm at Iveson Rise in Cookridge and anyone interested in witnessing this unusual event is quite welcome to attend.

Sophie Hazan wrote the following article which appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post on 10th January. They have kindly granted permission for it to be reproduced here.

Left a bit... right a bit... yew've got it!

Yew would never believe how much fuss one centenarian could cause, but this hardy 100-year-old is rather special.

The protected British Yew tree in question has been at the centre of a 12-tonne planning problem since blueprints revealed it stood in the way of a lucrative new £4m care centre.

Permission for the build was granted on the condition that the the 50ft giant, which sat at the heart of the foundations for the visionary 96-bed residential home, was carefully uprooted and replanted.

Finally after weeks of preparation the answer arrived in the shape of a JCB, 20 tonnes of soil and an £8,000 bill.

Experts called in from Essex moved the 12-tonne evergreen 40ft to the boundary of the muddy brown building site off Iveson Rise in Cookridge.

The digger dragged the ancient tree and its roots, neatly wrapped in hessian to form a 17ft-wide "rootball" and then attached to a sturdy frame, along track to the side of the one-and-a-half acre plot.

Once in position soil and compost was heaped on top to secure the tree in place.

Alistair Wood, planning and design manager for Orchard Care Homes, said: "We are very excited about this project. It is a rare procedure that is a first for us. This is an environmentally friendly company serious about protecting the environment."

Although the operation was straightforward the difficulty arose when tree transplanting group Ruskins excavated the roots.

Keith Morley, managing director, said: " You don't know what you are going to find until you begin digging. In this case the tree had been planted above ground with soil heaped on top.

"That meant we needed to dig much deeper to make sure we were taking earth from the ground along with the aerial roots to make sure the tree takes.

"The soil was full of sandstone and boulders, and not in great condition. We looked at the science of the soil and will be keeping an eye of the tree's progress."

The care centre will provide state-of-the-art care for residents who will enjoy private ensuite bedrooms with flat-screen televisions, DVD players and access to internet. It is expected to be complete by Christmas.

Sophie Hazan 9th January 2007

More Yews under threat

I have been informed that yews are under threat at the following sites:

Ashley Court Hotel, Bristol
Four yews, each with a Tree Preservation Order, grow in a line on raised ground close to the centre of Bristol. They were probably planted when the Ashley Court Hotel was built and so their ages are 100+. The hotel has now been demolished and the plans to build a large number of homes on a small plot of land necessitate the construction of an underground car park. Unfortunately this requires tunnelling beneath the yews.
Destroying these trees will increase the developer’s profits by tens of thousands of pounds. Perhaps it is time to look at the increased profits available directly as a result of felling old trees, and expect the developers to pay a percentage of this increase towards local tree initiatives.
1st June 2007I have been told that the yews have been trimmed, the ground beneath them cleared and that the trees look 'lovely'. The TPOs remain in place and the campaign group intend to ensure that the develoers are always mindful of their responsibility to these protected trees.

Roundway Down, near Devizes, Wiltshire
In Donald Grose's Flora of Wiltshire (1957) it is recorded that "a large yew wood on Roundway Down was clear felled in 1949 and much of the debris burned on the site". I am told that another area of yew woodland in the same area is now threatened. The trees are reported to be about 350 years of age. I am awaiting more details.

Yew saplings planted at Houghton Hillside Cemetery

In May 2006 we reported an outbreak of vandalism at this cemetery, when old yews around Rector John Grey's grave were vandalised.

Ancient Yew Group member Paul Greenwood donated a batch of yew saplings rescued from a churchyard in Darlington and on 31st March 2007 these were planted to replace the damaged trees.

Go to for a full report of events.

St Faiths Church House, Havant

This threatened yew can be seen on the Gazetteer web page at Havant – St Faiths Church House. It is a fine street specimen and a request to fell it was submitted to remove the nuisance of pigeon droppings. The person making the request had been advised that while it is possible to remove the pigeons, this would only be a short term measure and that they would eventually return.

The Ancient Yew Group have submitted an objection as follows:
Objection to planning application 07/61367/003 Works to a TPO tree located in front of St Faiths Church House, The Pallant, Havant

The proposed application to fell the Common Yew, which is subject to TPO 1686 should be rejected on the following grounds:

  • The yew has been visited by one of my colleagues and is reported to be a fine, mature, male tree, very healthy with a fine erect single stem to approximately 16ft where it supports a dome shaped canopy. Girth is about 6ft 6ins, making its likely age about 100 years. Its crown has been lifted and pruned in the past and this has been expertly done and the tree has been properly cared for. This information has been backed up by location photographs that show it to be a very fine amenity tree.
  • The felling of a 100 + year old slow growing tree, because of the mess created by pigeons, would set a precedent that might lead to many such applications. A similar issue is that of the ‘mess’ created by the berries dropped by the female common yew. In such instances planning departments and Tree Officers have rejected the applications. In conversations with me they have used language like ‘trivial’, ‘nonsense’, ‘ridiculous’, ‘frivolous’ to describe such applications. While I am sure there is a problem for those concerned, the problem is not the tree, it is the pigeons, and allowing the felling of this fine yew would probably do nothing more than move the problem elsewhere.
  • There must be many residents who enjoy the appearance of this tree. I would like to think they are aware of the proposed felling and have been given the opportunity to comment. One correspondent to me feels that “it would be tantamount to a criminal act to fell this tree”. I have to agree.

    I trust that this submission will be taken into consideration and that the Ancient Yew Group will be informed of the results.

    May 2007 - The application to fell this yew has been turned down because: "The tree is a significant feature in the local landscape and appears to be in adequately sound and healthy condition. Its proposed felling would result in undue loss and detriment to the visual amenities of the locality."

Threatened yews now protected by TPO

I was alerted to a recent case in Gloucester, where the local NHS trust had applied to fell a relatively young yew as part of a larger application of work needing to be carried out on a number of trees. The application cited the “hazard” posed by falling berries. The City Council refused consent on the grounds that whilst falling arils may be a seasonal inconvenience there are less drastic options to resolving the issue. Because the tree has ‘public amenity value’ it now has the protection of a Tree Preservation Order. A larger yew with a girth of about 3m, was threatened with felling because because pigeon droppings fell onto the communal garden area below. In this instance the matter went before a planning committee at which the councillors agreed to the Tree Officer’s request for a Tree Preservation Order.