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What`s New - December 2009

New sites
Radyr: St George`s–super–Ely – Tim Hills
Broughton – Yew Tree House – Peter Norton

New photos
Monifieth – The Grange: – Colin McLeod
East Tytherleigh: Lockerley: Salisbury – Bourne Hill Gardens – Peter Norton

New book
Trees of the Celtic Saints – The Ancient Yews of Wales by Andrew Morton
It is published by Carreg Gwalch. 

December 2009

What`s New - November 2009

New Articles

Wiltshire Yews – An Inventory of Churchyard Yews along the Ebble Valley by Peter Norton.
Found on the Churchyard Yews webpage, this is the 2nd of 5 reports by Peter Norton, documenting the yew populations in a large number of Wiltshire’s churchyards.

In 1897 John Lowe’s The Yew Trees of Great Britian and Ireland was published. On the Articles webpage Tim Hills compares photos of the yews taken in the latter years of the 19th century and the first decade of the 21st.

New photos
Batcombe: Steventon,Hampshire – Dave Kenny
Angmering – Owen Johnson

New sites
Garsdale: Watermillock: – Edwin Pretty
Burbage: Okeford Fitzpaine: West Grimstead – Tim Hills
Ruscombe – Dave Kenny

Lost Yews
Dukinfield: Heightington: Llanymynech – Tim Hills
Eckford: Roxburgh Castle – Margaret Jeary
Kington – John Potts

November 2009

What`s New - October 2009

New Article on the Churchyard Yews webpage

Wiltshire Yews – An Inventory of Churchyard Yews along the Deverill and Wylye Valleys by Peter Norton.

This is the first of 5 reports by Peter Norton, in which he systematically documents the yew populations in a large number of Wiltshire’s churchyards. Peter’s study will cover a considerable area, sufficient to allow conclusions to be drawn about the size and number of younger yews, and more importantly about the way these trees are being looked after. This work continues the tradition of observation and recording that has been carried out by enthusiastic amateurs for centuries, work which can now be made available through the internet, and which will prove invaluable when similar studies are carried out 100/200 years from now. It should be borne in mind that each of the trees he is documenting has the potential to become an ancient yew.
Part 2, the Ebble Valley, will follow in November.

New photos
Cyffylliog – Peter Fowler and Tim Hills
Langley Park – Maureen Stevens
Bramshaw: Mere: Sherfield English – Peter Norton

New sites
Oxford – Tim Hills
Maddington – Peter Norton
Angmering – Owen Johnson

Lost Yews
Dunmanway : Leyland – Tim Hills

October 2009

What`s New - September 2009

New Articles on the Churchyard Yews webpage

The Culmstock Yew by Margaret Bromwich is about an unusual yew that has grown out of the church tower for at least two and a half centuries. It inspired a poem c1900 which appeared in a local newspaper. We have been able to obtain a copy of the whole poem.

The Crowhurst (Surrey) Yew A compilation of records from 1630 to the present day, including a report from Jeroen Pater.

New photos
Broomfield; Enmore – Barry Saich

New sites
Astley; Aston–le–Walls; Beaumanor; Grimston; Newstead Abbey; Maplebeck; Nuthall; Papplewick Stanford–on–Soar; Thornton – Tim Hills
Chicklade – Peter Norton

Lost Yews
Belvoir Castle; Blackwell; Chartley Castle – Tim Hills

September 2009

What`s New - August 2009

New photos
Burghill; Llansilin; Llandderfel; Milson; Mynyddislwyn – Tim Hills
Alderbury – Peter Norton
Langley Park – Stan Richardson

New sites
Harefield – Stan Robinson
Caer Alyn; Hopton Wafers; Jones` Rough, Nantmawr; Rhydycroesau – Tim Hills

Lost Yews
Sampford Arundel – Barry Saich
Hatton – Steven Falk
Brithdir – Tim Hills

The British Standard 5837:2005: (trees in relation to construction – recommendations)
If you think that construction work may damage a tree`s roots, take note of the above British Standard. Owners of a mature yew were concerned about potential damage to the tree because their Council were planning to install a 9" diameter drainage pipe in a field next to their property. As their yew was very close to the fence it meant that half the roots would have been severed. They received advice from their local tree officer who pointed them in the direction of British Standard 5837:2005:(trees in relation to construction – recommendations). The highways department responsible for installing the pipe did their best to convince them that the work would not damage the tree but "we didn`t believe that and so stuck to our guns. We think standing firm and using the The British Standard 2005 made them take alternative action."

Caversham Court Gardens reopened to the public on 7th August 2009. The entry on our website expressed concern that the lottery funded work should safeguard the future of a fine old layering yew as well as the ancient yew hedge. It is hoped that this is the case.

August 2009

What`s New - July 2009

New articles
3 new articles are added this month:
On the Articles page are
(1) The Yews of Boughton Monchelsea by Cliff Hansford
(2) The Fountains Abbey Yews by Tim Hills
On the Churchyard Yews page is The Venerable Yews of Bettws Newydd. This is a leaflet available to visitors of Bettws Newydd church and demonstrates the esteem in which their 3 ancient yews are rightly held.

New photos
Llandybie building plot – Fred Hageneder
Pinbury – Allen Meredith
Bampton – Barry Saich

New sites
Melcombe Bingham – Tim Hills
Compton Chamberlayne – Peter Norton
Felbridge – Ali Wright

Lost Yews
Hemsworth – Edwin Pretty has supplied photographs of the stump

July 2009

What`s New - June 2009

New sites recorded
Boughton Monchelsea – place: Boughton Monchelsea – embankment: Boughton Monchelsea – church: Boughton Monchelsea – field: – Cliff Hansford
Colemere – Christopher Jobson
Fonthill Bishop: New Forest – Sloden: New Forest – Holly Hatch: Standlynch church, Trafalgar Park – Peter Norton
Otterbourne chalk pit – Hugo Egleston

New photos added
Allestree: Doveridge: Mugginton – Edwin Pretty
Bredwardine – Tim Hills
Sutton Mandeville – Peter Norton
South Petherton – Barry Saich

Historic Photos
Hambledon, Hampshire: Llanuwchllyn: Totteridge

June 2009

What`s New - May 2009

New sites recorded:
Wilton shopping village – Alan Clarke
Barnes, East Bedfont, Warndon – Tim Hills
Bishopstrow – Danny Howell
Kennel Copse – Hugh Milner
Bentley Wood, New Forest – Bolderwood – Peter Norton
Brampton Bryan – Edwin Pretty

New photos added:
Gwyddelwern – Eirian Evans
Acton Burnell, Alfold, Ashtead, Barfrestone, Billingsley, Bodcott Farm, Burrington, Cowdray Park, Dinder, Eastham, Holne, Horton Kirby, Kemble, Wall Hills – Tim Hills
Cascob, Claverley, Discoed, Knighton-on-Teme – Edwin Pretty
Kenn – Barry Saich
Northchapel – unknown

Lost yews
Chalgrove, Church Hanborough, Claines, Lyss nr. Halkyn, Penystrowed, Richard Jefferies Garden in Swindon, Stadhampton

May 2009

Felling of yews at Cremorne Gardens, Ellesmere-Ken Dakin

I am deeply saddened to report the wanton destruction of five yew trees at Cremorne gardens, Ellesmere jointly by Shropshire County Council and Ellesmere Town Council in the name of ‘conservation’. The yew trees were part of an avenue of around 20 yew trees forming the perimeter of the ancient lake or ‘mere’ formed 11,000 years ago when the ice retreated northwards from Shropshire.

The Council received a £2.1 million Lottery funded grant to ‘improve’ the former Cremorne Gardens and restaurant. Part of the grant money was spent on ‘rediscovering’ ‘ancient footpaths’ in an existing arboretum and in the Park itself to improve the view of the Mere. But was it really necessary to fell so many mature trees. What is of particular concern is the ability of a local authority to obtain in advance a ‘carte blanche’ planning consent to fell [non-specified] ‘trees’ in the Park. On this basis one wonders if any tree is safe.

An existing children’s playground was to be extended by converting an old ‘tennis court’ to a new adventure playground. It was argued by the Council(s) that destroying the 5 yew trees provided ‘access’ and ‘line of sight’ with the existing playground (despite there already being 10 feet gaps between the existing tree trunks and despite the £2 million pricetag, the adventure playground is still not yet even begun - but the destruction of the elderly trees is already self-evident.

A Shropshire Councillor, when pressed on the subject by a Shropshire Star reporter, glibly stated that “there are still 15 left”!

Local residents are definitely ‘not amused’ - judging by the response I have received from people on the street - but my ‘one man campaign’ is in need of some expert help in combating this ‘institutional vandalism’ - to preserve the rest of what can still become a splendid grove of 15 ancient Yews in around 500 years or so!

It is a sad reflection on life that a Council - elected for just a few years - can inflict such devastating damage on trees with such longevity. We need much better protection for trees such as these and it is wholly wrong that short-lived Councils can give themselves the legal right to be be judge, jury and executioner of our ancient Heritage by writing the rules for themselves. Paul Greenwood rightly points out in his excellent article [] that these yew trees are the foundations of our future much more ancient trees.

Ken Dakin - April 2009


What`s New - April 2009

3 new articles are added this month:
On the Articles page is found:
The Craigends Yew Grove in Renfrewshire by Bryan Bowes
On the Churchyard Yews page are found:
The Upminster Yew Avenue by Dave Martin
The Gresford Yews – a compilation by Tim Hills featuring work by the late Reg Wheeler.
When Reg retired from the Forestry Commission he spent many years gathering data about the yews of North Wales. He took the precaution of ensuring that copies of his work was lodged in various institutions, and the Ancient Yew Group now has access to some of this work and are making efforts to locate the remainder. In a letter to David Bellamy in 1988 Reg says: “my file is available for research if required – no ‘reward’ anticipated save the traditional satisfaction of sharing knowledge in pursuit of further knowledge.” His wife, who spent many years gathering data with Reg, has recently been traced, and is thrilled that her late husband’s work is at last being recognised.

New photos
Dunster – Steve Waters
Colaton Raleigh: Heavitree: Woodbury – Barry Saich
Tandridge – Jesse Cooper
Crom – David Alderman
Adderley: Chapel Chorlton – Tim Hills

New sites
Bridge – Owen Johnson
Westleigh – Barry Saich
Cherry Burton: Clayton Manor Garden – Tim Hills
Bettws-y-crwyn – Allen Meredith
Cranborne-churchyard – Peter Andrews
Blackwood, nr Bradley Farm: Ellisfield, Fox Inn: Ellisfield – woodland: Longwood – Hugo Egleston

New historic image

Lost yew

April 2009

What`s New - March 2009

New sites recorded:
Dudmaston Hall – Tony Hackett
Epsom – a tree of known planting date
Llanbedrog – Tony Vowell
Palmer’s Copse, Rockbourne and the Whitsbury courting tree – Peter Andrews
Stalisfield – a tree of known planting date of 1839 – Pat Thompson

New photos added:
Chevening – John Band
Crowcombe – Tim Hills
Crowhurst, Surrey – Richard Cooper:
Cudham – Steve Waters
Now that I can digitise slides I will be able to add new photos during the coming months. This month there are new images for the following locations in Kent: Buckland–in–Dover; Cudham; Downe; Eastling; Egerton; Elmstead; Kennington; Knockholt; Lamberhurst; Molash; Ringwould; Ripple; Stanstead; Tilmanstone; Walmer

Historic images have been found of yews at Peper Harow and Goetre.

New articles prepared for inclusion next month are “The Upminster Yew Avenues” by Dave Martin and “The Gresford Yews”, which features work by Reg Wheeler.
When Reg retired from the Forestry Commission he spent many years gathering data about the yews of North Wales. He took the precaution of ensuring that copies of his work was lodged in various institutions, and the Ancient Yew Group now has access to some of this work and are making efforts to locate the remainder. In a letter to David Bellamy in 1988 Reg says: “my file is available for research if required – no ‘reward’ anticipated save the traditional satisfaction of sharing knowledge in pursuit of further knowledge.” His wife, who spent many years gathering data with Reg, has recently been traced, and is thrilled that her late husband’s work is at last being recognised.

March 2009

What`s New - February 2009

Two more felled yews
In 1880 E.Straker produced a paper for the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society, in which he recorded the location and girths of many yew trees. He noted three in the churchyard at Sanderstead in Surrey – two of which were ‘gone’ when Gwyneth Fookes revisited the sites in 1994. The largest girthed of the original three (16ft in 1880) was felled in 1962.
When I visited in 2001 the surviving yew girthed 14ft 11ins at 3ft. In 1994 a girth of 14ft 9ins at 3ft was recorded by Gwyneth Fookes, while in 1880 it was 12ft 3ins at 5ft. At the time of my 2001 visit there appeared to be nothing amiss with the tree. A recent report from Steve Waters states that the tree was severely lopped about 5 years ago and that there are no signs of regrowth. We are trying to discover why such drastic action was considered necessary.

A yew growing close to a house formerly lived in by the naturalist, Richard Jefferies (1848–1887), was felled by Swindon Council, because it was thought to be damaging the building. A sudden movement of the house in 2007 was blamed on the yew, although others think that a blocked drain was the cause. A spokesman for Swindon Council said “We took the decision to fell this yew tree with huge reluctance, but the unavoidable fact is that its roots were damaging a listed, historic building and there was no other option."
Photographs of the stump show that the tree was proably only about 200 years old, though in newspaper articles this reached between 850 and 1000 years! Requests to leave the stump in situ for ring analysis fell on deaf ears and this too has now been removed.

A report from John Band of some fire or smoke damage to the ancient yew at Chevening (a yew in the 600–1000+ age range)is more alarming, though photographs suggest that it has not come to any harm. It is difficult to know what to do to further protect hollow specimens growing in remote locations yet so close to public footpaths.

Other yews known to have been damaged by smoke or fire are as follows (*not churchyard):
Buckinghamshire: Langley
Cheshire: Eastham Prestbury
Derbyshire: Shining Cliff Wood *
Dorset: Cranborne – White House Copse *
Gloucestershire: Pauntley
Greater London: Addington
Hampshire: Durley, Hambledon
Kent: Hoo St Werburgh, Petham, Ringwould, Thanington, Walmer
Oxfordshire: Didcot and South Moreton
Herefordshire: Brockhampton–By–Ross, Burghill, Eaton Bishop, Linton, Llandinabo, Rowlestone, Yarpole, Yazor
Northumberland: Kingston Park *
Shropshire: Chetton, Selattyn
Somerset: Asham Wood, nr Whatley *, Compton Dando, * Chilcompton, Dinnington, South Petherton, Taps Combe *
Surrey: Tandridge
Sussex: Chailey
West Midlands: Tettenhall
Wrexham: Gresford
In Wales:
Cardiff: Llanedeyrn
Ceredigion: Silian
Conwy: Gwytherin
Glamorgan: Baglan
Monmouthshire: Llangwm St Jeromes, Llanfoist
Powys: Abergwesyn Llandefaelog Fach, Llangasty–Talyllyn, Llangyniew, Llanbedr (Paincastle)

In most instances the trees have, or are recovering. In a few cases, such as at Llangwm St Jeromes and Shining Cliff Wood,the tree was destroyed by the fire.

February 2009

What`s New - January 2009

New Webpage
We start 2009 with a new webpage: How old are yew trees? and would welcome further articles that contribute to the debate on this subject.
The webpage features 3 new articles by AYG founder member Toby Hindson:

(1) The Growth rate of Taxus Baccata: An empirically Generated Growth Curve
A 2007 revision of The Alan Mitchell Memorial lecture given in 2000.
(2) The Yews of Alice Holt, which includes notes and data from the Lodge Inclosure that contributed to the yew growth rate curve of Article 1.
(3) Brief studies of Felled Yews: This study includes:
churchyard yews at Aldershot, Bridge Sollars in Herefordshire and Farringdon in Hampshire
hill fort sites at Wychbury Hill and Merdon Castle
hillside yews at Brecon Beacon and the Hog’s Back near Guildford
yews in Surrey on the Cherkeley Court Estate and in the woodland at Newlands Corner

We have also transferred the following age–related items from the Articles page:
Tree–ring analysis of a branch from the Ankerwyke Yew by Andy Moir
Dating Yews by Allen Meredith
Ageing the Yew – no core, no curve by Fergus Kinmonth

3 new items have been added to the Articles webpage:
Monketon by Cliff Hansford
Even in 1798 the church at Monketon in Kent was ‘long dilapidated’, but ‘two very large yew–trees’ still marked the plot where the church once stood. More than 200 years after Hasted’s record, Cliff Hansford returned to see whether the old yews had survived.

Yorkshire Yews by Edwin Pretty
Edwin continues to find and record old yews in this vast county.

Yew trees in churchyards in East Surrey
Jane McLauchlin has allowed us to reproduce her study of yews in this area

One new site has been added this month, that of Sunbury–on–Thames, featuring a yew described by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist. Barry Saich has also provided new photos of the yew at Hayes.

The work to improve the quality of the images in the Gazetteer pages has continued.

January 2009